Friday, 30 September 2011

On beş!

One of the exciting challenges of running overseas is trying to work out what is going in another language.

In Berlin, the administration of the event was so efficient, that it was no problem changing my entry from "power walker" to "laufer" runner. It was a little more difficult once inside the entrant's area to work out where the change rooms, bag drops, etc were in German but that's a different story.

However changing my Istanbul Marathon entry from marathon to 15km run proved more difficult. I can fortunately read a bit of Turkish: enough to say quite İngilizce biliyor musunuz convincingly quickly followed by Burada İngilizce konuşan birisi var mı?. Both those phrases are quite useless when someone answers "hayir" (no) and I end up saying "bye bye" as I hang up the phone to someone gabbling away in Turkish.

Fortunately the cafes outside my office are run by Turks so I was off to The Grubberie for a helping hand. It turns out at some point I had been running some factory but they eventually got through and after a bit of chat and a lot of me confirming "on beş" it was all sorted. In that it can't be sorted, so on paper I am still a marathon entrant I must just make sure I follow the correct signs to the finish.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

What I think about when I think about running

With apologies to Murakami

Am I standing up straight? I'm going to hit that child. I've dodged that child. Look two runners also running up the High Street. Smile! They sort of smiled. He smiled. She didn't. It's always like that. I'm going to hit that child. I hit that child.

Oh wow I didn't have to stop for that car. Bonus. Nothing. Nothing.

Ooh forgot how busy it will be down here. Shoppers everywhere, off the path, on the road, sideways through the bollards. Kind of like rat race or a video game. I like the challenge and I like the change in pace. Thank you for moving out of the way. Ugh smokers. Why do so many people who look like they strive to be beautiful, smoke? Thank you for moving out of the way. Eastern Europe pack on street corner; put on race face and block out ears. Ugh smoke. Dodge child, dodge old person. Muslim preacher. Looks unapprovingly at hot pink tight sleeveless top. He also look unapprovingly at my normal clothes.

Hey I'm through Kilburn. Hmm it's a bit grey. Maidavale, where cars have right of way, suddenly there's no pedestrian lights. So when do I cross. Now because I am a runner - give way cars. Honestly must get Living Streets onto this. It's starting to rain. Hmm. My leg is really hurting, that right one. Does it turn in, or out. What's the best way to correct it. Nearly 5km, that's good. That's nearly half way. It's really raining now, should I stop. Should I end? Hmm. Bombay Bicycle Club let's pull over for the worst of it under the awning. I wonder if that Dry Cleaners will give me a plastic bag. Should I take a bus home? This leg is a mess. [three minute massage]

Okay on we go. That's where the teacher was stabbed. That's nice, well not nice, but it's selfless. Didn't that guy just get out of prison. Wasn't he on a bus recently? Yes it was in the papers.

Here we are, Little Venice, the cafe where I saw Jude Law. We tried to eat there, they didn't serve us. I bet Jude Law got table service. Why did I go on this side of the road, tree roots everywhere, narrow access and overhanging plants. Oh great sightseers who won't move over - oncoming runner on road - smile - avoid crash, ooh a charity runner, bigger smile, leap through tree root, scowl at tourists.

Paddington Basin - always get lost. Easy this way, wave to cyclists and down we go to the canal. Nice boat. Nice boat. Hmm cafe, cosy, but pretentious. Feel smug, they're not running and I am. Do you think they feel smug because they're cosy. And maybe they ran when it wasn't raining? Maybe. Another cafe. Nice boat. I remember doing sprint training on that footpath. Skateboarders - cool. One day you might be runners. Screaming girls - no that just makes the skateboarders uncool now.

Why do Eastern European men drink so much. Is it a cold weather thing? If I had these flats, I would have a garden on that balcony. Not a bike. That bike looks hard to get out. Knife amnesty box - does anyone know that box is there?! Hmm they look suspicious, oh they're fishing. Would you want to eat what is in there?

My foot hurts again. Pins and needles, that's pretty severe. I'd like a 15km play list that has songs from all the people who mean something to me. Ok let's make that list of people starting with most recent and work back. Yep, two, five. Running in light rain is quite nice. Now where was I? I should send an email to those people. They can organise my funeral too. Not now, when it comes. Yes, it better be good. I should tell them. And tell them I want power ballads. For my run, not my funeral. So who is on that list. Yes them, and them. Maybe, no. Actually. Yes.

The gate to the taxi fix it place is open. Ah cute baby coots. Or adolescents anyway. Mmm nature. I need to stop and massage this foot. Ah that's better.

Off again, gosh nearly 8km and I am running out of canal. That freakin' canal ramp is going to kill me. Walk up it, you can't walk down. So I am going to finish on the hill - Kensal Rise maybe? Why are there so many nice delis around here? Mmm banoffee pie. Remember when there was a six pack of lucozade on the bench on a hot day and you stared at it with such longing people had to stop you from drinking it?

Another deli. Cake. I'm going to have to do Kensal Rise. Head down and one foot in front of the other that's how you did Athens and even 'Ron I think I am amazing Hill' said that was hard. You peeked at looked up, head down. Down, down. See, wasn't even a hill. Oh I am going to have to keep going up Chamberlyn Road. That's a hill sort of. An incline. The Lexi - why did we eat awful chicken burgers when there. How times have changed. Like Kati eating a Hesburger!

Remember the hurricane here. Oooh Natasha Bedingfield. I just sang in front of a bus stop. "No one else can do it for you"... I love this song. Why does everyone not like it. It's nice for running "so close you can almost touch it" yes like the end of this run. OK 500 metres now - push. Push! PUSH! It's over, is that it. Cool! Air punch.

Damn I am not quite home though. Bus?

Saturday, 10 September 2011

The final countdown

I checked the Istanbul Marathon website for some information today and they have a new website that is mildly more this century. One of the new features is a counter that turns over as the days, hours, minutes and seconds pass to the marathon. Seconds! I ask you, who needs that kind of information?! Because I am sure I'm not alone in finding that days and seconds only seek to instil a kind of thrilling fear that there is not enough time.

I've downgraded from the Marathon to the 15km race so actually you'd think I have plenty of time. Well I got another cold the other day so I've spent three days full of snot and fever. Which has cost me a couple of runs and a swim.

I've got a good supply of decongestants and cold tables for tomorrow for a 10km run, a distance I used to do in my sleep. Having mapped it on mapmyrun, I realise that it isn't going to be easy to not blow my nose for an hour.

But at least 10km is only 5km short of what I have to run in Istanbul to take me from Asia to Europe ("let's meet where the Continents meet" says the website). And my training runs will actually cover a half marathon. So as long as I don't get sick again in the 35 hours 15 hours, 39 minutes and 20 seconds that remains I should be ok.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Change of plan

The Rowena Harding Half Marathon: 1 entrant, 1 DNF.

The other weekend I set out to run 20km. As anyone who has done a half knows, 20km isn’t a half marathon, it’s 21.0975km. But I figured if I got to 20km I could either be creative with the truth or go an extra 1.0975. As it was, I didn’t get that far. So no virtual medal, no virtual finish line just three painful letters for 'did not finish'.

I’m behind on my training runs for Istanbul as it is. But I thought if I could cover the long runs, some muscle memory would kick in and get me feeling good again. But as I started off from Limehouse for the second weekend, that lactic acid feeling started kicking in and I while I glared at the Ron’s Eel sign where I had my big cry the previous week, there just wasn’t enough Weetabix for a long run.

In my head, heart, lungs and legs, I knew that I was not going to be ready for Istanbul Marathon. While I might have been able to drag my arse around 42.195 kms by October that wasn’t really the goal. And I have done that so poorly before (bonking in Berlin) that there was really no reason to repeat such a performance. The goal for Istanbul was to finish and learn about recovery so I could put in solid 20 mile training runs ahead of the London Ultra. So from a goal-setting point of view, I knew I shouldn’t be doing the marathon. Istanbul also run a 15km race, and I could downgrade to that.

I sent out some messages, did a survey monkey and got assurance that no one would feel I was a quitter. I felt like a massive weight had lifted from my shoulders and ran on to Regents Park – finishing only 10km instead of 20. When I got home, Barry and The SRO were trying to talk me down from a very high building but it was ok – I actually felt good about the decision. There’s still a lot to aim for and I will still be running across the Bosphorous and across continents.