Thursday, 23 June 2011

Been there, done that

And now I've got the t shirt!!!

If you're a professional runner, it's really important that you have a running top of good fabric, well placed seams and appropriate fit. But if you're a back o' pack runner, you only need a t-shirt so people can find you five hours later, a t-shirt that your fans will spot you amongst the pack of Everyone Else, and a t-shirt and that looks good in photos.

When I run I become very patriotic in my t-shirt choice. I have even put tattoos of Australian flags on my arms and decked myself in red white and blue. A drew a line at clip on koalas, but only just. (See below in Berlin as proof.)

Technically I have even run for my country when I ran in the BUPA UK vs Australia vs Rest of the World. I lowered the national average but still, I wore the colors and you can't tell me that's not determination on my face as I approach the finish. (I can justify the water bottle on a 5km due to an upset stomach but the head band I cannot vouch for at all.)

Ahead of Athens last year there was a moment of panic when I realised I didn't have a t-shirt. I had to spend hours in Lilywhites getting something cheap, bright and slinky. I didn't have time to wear it on a long run for a test. I then bought iron on letters from Ebay only to realise I didn't have an iron. Because I had dropped it on the floor for no apparent reason. Unfortunately no Argos stories in a 10 mile radius possessed irons. Ok, I lie they had irons, but not for a tenner which after the t-shirt and iron on letter costs, was all I was willing to pay. So I had to do an outta town trip to get an iron only to afix my letters and flag all wonky on my shirt. It's a stress you don't need when putting together an epic packing list for a marathon.

But now I have a classy solution. Behold, inhale, applaud, the official Australian running shirt. With thanks to Hot Designs.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Dear diary

It’s recommended when training for a marathon or anything that seems to take up most of your year, to keep a training diary. I love notebooks and so I have several diaries. Some of them I even write in. Rarely about my runs, instead I scribble 15 versions of training plans, nice quotes, shopping lists of things I want to buy or things I have eaten.

I wish I had kept training diaries 1) because they are great for when you get Alzheimers 2) they are great for when you want to record what things you have attributed to a drop or gain in performance 3) they are useful for reminding yourself of everything you have done to get to the start line and tell yourself that you have put in the miles. Oh well.

I do have some scribbled notes from breaking in trainers, recovery runs or start of season. They are hilarious because they seem to be longer in word count than they are in time spent running. In fact long runs rarely feature in my training diary; just the short whiny ones. They also feature cryptic elements which would not look out of place in a Dan Brown novel (eg mysterious and badly written).

For example:

“Right quad very tight. Ran to Chatsworth Rd at treadmill speed. Back at run speed. Negative split [obviously]. Right foot pins and needles. Very tight calves feel awesome. [what?]” and this goes on for paragraphs for a 3km run.

In contrast a 20 mile run says “17 and around [no idea]. Hard energy. [pardon] short start very difficult. [nope no idea] sore knees. Cry at flyover.” And that was the full entry. The only thing that made sense was the crying on the flyover; I had a stomach upset the day before and desperately needed more food.

Sometimes there are stoic entries. I don’t know if they are written with false or real bravado.

“5km Toyota dealership pins and needles so far on forefoot. Tippy tappy. [this refers to a little Chris McDouggall line in Born to Run]. All ok. Calves tight but on form. [I didn’t even realise I was capable of form but in my diary it appears so]. After turnaround on hill [half way point] checked foot for friction [I had felt some serious rubbing going on]. Blister on left arch [an understatement, I had a £2 coin worth of skin turned pink and bubbly] Vaselined. On last 5km ran with one sock off. Great run, could have pushed harder but eased off from 6km to the end.”

It’s true, I did run with one sock off and actually ran the last 400m with one a bare foot which led to some strange gait as I still had my trainer on the other foot. Anyway, wasn’t I glad that little entry was recorded in the training diary; it makes up for all the entries where I was crying!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

The long and short of it

According to the training plan, written in pencil, this is “week one” of marathon training. Which means I should be able to run 4 miles this week. I think that’s probably possible as I have done training with the Running School for up to an hour and fun run around the block for about 3 miles. But I am not running 4 miles this week. And it’s not the incessant it-must-be-tennis-season-so-lets-chuck-down-the-rain that’s stopping me, but that I would like a full two weeks of resting these feet:

As you can see by the adjacent image which I hope you’re not viewing over your breakfast (or indeed any meal or snack), the feet are healing remarkably. Gone are the huge blisters filled with liquid of mysterious qualities. Gone are most of the clusters of toadspawn-like bumps. (Who on earth invented this ailment?) But as my hands have flared up in recent days due to a condition I call being allergic to work, I would like to spend another few days smearing my feet in toxic cream burning layers of my epidermis and waiting for the pharmaceutical company to call and tell me I am indeed allergic to cholorcresol. Anyway, I digress. 4 miles lies ahead, as does a plan to do some catch up exercise, which shall involve pilates at home, a session with the wonderful Galina, some strength sessions with Barry and no doubt being dragged around the block whimpering for 4 miles.

Which brings me to the point of this post, if you can call it a point. I hate running 4 miles. 5kms. Anything longer than the run for a bus and under 10km. I’d sooner run 18miles than three. And that also means if I run 18 miles, I hate the first three. I start slow, I stitch, I bitch, I grumble, my foot pronates, then the other, then it suppinates. Then my knee hurts, and my chest, and my breathing is labored. Oh I hate it. And I tell anyone I am running with or passing by or looking at or thinking of. If it’s a short run (see definition above) then I carry on like this till the half way point. Then I realise I am half way home, and I think “I can’t do this anymore, what a stupid dumb arse sport, I am going to die” and it feels like I physically pass through something like hatred and come out the other side gambolling like Bambi and run a negative split fast all the way without so much as a boo and annoy anyone I am running with. Really annoying.

In my first year or marathon training I got around this by running lots of 5km races as they are very exciting and you whinge less than if you were plodding round your local park. I did this through Nike Town Run Club (sure it’s not a race, you tell the girls I race home down the end of Regent St), the England vs Australia vs Rest of the World and a lot of Race for Life, Hydroactive and other charity runs. I built up a good 5km base which I found transferred to a quieter first 5km on long runs. So while I am sitting on my butt watching my feet heal, I am going to surf the web for some great 5km races to give me something mildly exciting to do while I get back into things.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

The blog is back

Ah yes the blog is back. And not just because I want your money this time. That comes later...

It's because I can't run. For now. Maybe for a while. And so a blog, being public and shared with strangers, is the perfect place to wax lyrical about why I can't run.

I have, you see, a special Greek worded ailment. How appropriate. It's called pompholyx eczema, which translates as hand and bubble. How cute. Picture small children holding bubble rings to sunny skies and blowing rainbow blushed baubles skyward. Now burst that bubble.

What this means for me is a series of small "frogspawn"-like lumps on the sole of my foot clustered around lots of great big angry f-ck off weeping open, about to burst, killer tender blisters, nestled amongst broken, dry, cracked open wounds. Sorry, should have warned you: don't eat and read this post.

At first it was diagnosed as something I got in the beach of Ghana on recent holiday. That was my diagnosis. Then we thought maybes a verucca. Then the doctor, Mr Shipman of 59 Anson Road, who couldn't bother to look, confirmed such verucca. Then the lovely lady at NHS Barnet gave me some special salicylic acid and turpentine which made tears stream down my face in silent frustration. And now thanks to hours on google and a confirmation to a proper Antipodean doctor, we find I am blessed with hand and bubble foot.

I am so tempted to show you photos but people who know me might read this. Stick the word in google images.


PS there's a hashtag to follow #rowenasmankyfoot including photos. You know you want to...