Why you need to visit the National Space Centre

OMG it’s not a running blurg!

As part of my 2016 promise I fully intend to bring you my 22 utterly devoted readers occasional blogs in which I don’t tell you how much (insert part of body here) is hurting because of training for the London Marathon.  In fact, I could even turn this into a fundraising event.  Donate to my campaign and for every £50 I raise until February 29th I will write about things other than running!  So 1 blog of rambling on things like the fact that as a child I didn’t understand why Easter cards had daffodils all over them and then moved to England and was all like, “OOOOOOOOooooohhh,” for every £50 taken in.

I promise you, those blogs will underwhelm like nobody’s business.

This past weekend I went to Leicester, which the English pronounce as “Lester.”  This is an interesting phenomena of England in that, at some point in history, they decided they were too lazy to pronounce all the vowels of a city but kept all the vowels in the written city name.  I’m assuming this is all just some horrible thing they do so that children never learn how to spell.

Any way, I went to Leicester because:

  1. I am a space nut.  I’ve been to Cape Canaveral, Huntsville, and Mission Control.  Plus, I thought Space Camp the Movie was totally real as a small child.
  2. I have been completely converted into a Doctor Who fan.

So, what better thing to do than attend a Doctor Who Convention at the National Space Centre.

It was amazing.

First, because the National Space Centre really thought itself out.  It’s literally packed with interesting information, exhibits, and in the case of having an almost-four-year-old son: BUTTONS.

Lots and lots and lots of buttons to push and you don’t get in trouble.

My thought is they looked to buttons as a gateway drug.  First, you go to the National Space Centre and get to push all these flashing buttons.  Then, you start learning about why you are pushing those buttons.  Pretty soon you’re at MIT securing your double PhD in aerospace engineering and biomedical sciences and applying for the astronaut programme at NASA… it’s a vicious cycle I tell you.

Buttons aside they have floors and floors interesting information coupled with simulations and models and all sorts.  If I wasn’t so busy admiring the suits of the (reformed to non-assimilation) 15th Cyber Legion I could have spent all day driving around their model Mars Rover.

In terms of “Cons” this Doctor Who event was my second overall, and by far the crowd was way more dedicated to the Cosplay.  Every Doctor imaginable in male and female form was wandering the place and taking to task their sonic screwdriver on model planets and singing Daleks.

Yes, Daleks (well, the reformed ones on planet Earth) sing.

Specifically, they sing Bohemian Rhapsody.

Now while the link above goes to another event I’m fairly sure a few of those Daleks were present at the National Space Centre.  Between the buttons, exhibits, and the one table in the cafe that had a big “DO NOT PRESS” button on it (which, if you pressed, resulted in a rocket “taking off” in the middle of said cafe) you can get quite overwhelmed with things to do.  But at the end of the day, right before we were set to go the Daleks slid gracefully into the lobby and sang Bohemian Rhapsody as a farewell to the crowds.

It was magic.  So long as if you consider magic Daleks gleefully singing about exterminating people.  But magic nonetheless.

So, go to the National Space Centre (the ticket currently gives you free admission for almost every day the rest of the year) and… if you can… go during their Doctor Who convention at least once.  It’s worth it for that slim chance that you may hear the grating song of Daleks floating above the rocket ships and capsules into the bright sky above.

 

 

Interval Training

intervalTraining

I had to turn on Endomondo for this moment alone.

As part of my marathon training plan, and for the first time ever in the twelve years I have been willing to run ridiculous races, I have decided to interval train.

Why?  Because I want to endure.

I have done alright for a slow-poke on a marathon course and hung around 6 hours.  But I know I lose the mojo at the “wall” point of about 18 miles.  To push through that wall I had read that doing such things as going and running up a gradual hill really fast over and over and over again will help build endurance.

So, out I went to a series of gently rolling hills near work where I ran, over and over and over again, up and down them.  Scared the daylights out of leisure lunchers and dog walkers, but did it.

And boy, did it suck.

I mean, wow, brutal.  It’s been years since I wanted to puke after running and for the first time in ages I took myself just up to the point of it.  Dry heaves and all.  It was the most awful thing in the world since my pole instructor added these fantastic hanging inverts into our warm up. (What are those you ask?  Well, you hold on to the pole and pull your knees up.  You then count to five and then curse profusely as you cleanly flip yourself over. You then neatly lower back down to the ground with all the grace of a swan who learned to speak at a truck stop.  Then you do it again.  And again.  And then on the other side.)

I have a scheduled ‘dry heave’ now booked into every week of training.  There isn’t an end to the pain.  We have 1 minute as fast as possible followed by 1 minute of putting my stomach back in my body.  We have more hills.  We have things called “progression runs” which could be called “progressing into hell.”  None of it even sounds fun.

So, yeah, I’m totally doing them.

Every single awful terrible one of them.

Because you know what?  They only amount to about 2 miles of hell based on my pace.  2 miles of hell for 26.2 of prospectively more pleasant miles?

I’m down with that.  Seriously.  The food is going to stay down.

Promise.

 

 

 

 

Don’t Kick Yourself

2016-01-14 08.18.58.jpgThis is sunrise on the Thames River in Oxford.  As it’s a wet winter the river is darn close to busting its banks and, in some areas, it has hit the flood plains turning fields into lakes.  I took this picture standing on the Osney Lock, noting that the brilliant pinks and oranges and yellows would likely not show up in the hastily taken photo, but I took it any way.

I decided to take the photo because I had a crap run into work.  It was muddy, icy, and I was slow.  My podcast wasn’t loading.  My pack was rubbing against my running tights in such a way that they were slowly inching down and I had to stop and pull them up periodically.  I had not eaten breakfast as early as I should’ve and I could feel it uncomfortably turning in my stomach.  Pedestrians were wandering around in the dim dawn light towards me, likely attracted to my violently coloured pink hoodie, making my pace erratic.

I was angry at everything and angry with myself.

My pace was more like around when I first started running.  And, since I’m not known for speed, you can guess that my pace was well outside what I am hoping to achieve.  I was cursing myself, cursing how I would allow myself to run so horrifically, despite the fact that today is a purposely designed slow run to set me up for my long run on Saturday.

I had given up at the lock and turned off everything.  I was attempting not to slide across the ice at the lock when I looked up and saw the sunrise.

And then I remembered: I shouldn’t be kicking myself.

Any seasoned marathoner, fast or slow, will tell you that so long as you get out there and put in the miles you will cross that finish line.  Sometimes the training isn’t what you want, but you do it.  You go out there and you do it and that means you are inches closer to achieving the finish.

As I looked up at the sunrise I realised that I am doing it.  Lots of people don’t.  Lots of people never try. I am out for myself and my causes and I will keep going.

So if you ever find yourself in a similar situation remember you are in this for the long haul.  Keep training.  I believe in you.

 

 

A note on running fashion.

So, just to bring home a point from my last blog: This was the cover of Runner’s World in 2015:

Runners_WorldNote the well-coordinated outfit.  The slicked back hair.  The glorious stride.

And now, what I wore today for my interval training:

Wait for it…

Wait for it…

Almost there…

Feast your eyes!2016-01-12 12.12.16

Please note that while the amazing University of Florida Gator running tights are new I’m proud to say that I totally forgot my running socks and thus wore these fabulous winter socks from Primark (purchased to keep the cold at bay whilst biking).  To top off my look I have Brooks shoes in NEON PINK and… while I failed to show my running top… it was also a hoodie in NEON PINK.

I also have a singing hat, which clashed with the entire ensemble.

People fled my presence.  I got some excellent (if not painful but necessary) sprints in along the river.

There are times when I have all the intention in the world to match.  In fact, I do have running outfits that actually do match.  It’s just that it is winter and I have two pairs of long running tights.  So, yeah, this is going to happen and I’m going to OWN it.

One of the best things about running is all you really need to get going is a half decent pair of running shoes.  Or a total lack of shame.

Happy to say I have both.

(Yay donate!)

 

Week One of Sixteen

I get a monthly subscription to Runner’s World.  It comes the old fashioned way, through the post, in a pretty plastic wrapper once a month.

On the cover is usually a person who is running along.  Chances are that that person is not actually “running” though I do know first hand that photo shoots can be exhausting nonetheless.  The fitness model is usually staring ahead, mid-stride, determination on their face.  Their clothing is perfectly coordinated, their hair slicked back as if the wind was hitting it just right. [1]

To be clear, this is nothing what I look like when I run.

I’ve started week one of sixteen.  Most marathon training plans are sixteen or eighteen weeks.  Up until now I’ve been just getting back into the swing of things: More time at the gym; Short runs around the the office; Runs to work; More pain on the pole (let me tell you of the hell that is “20s” sometime).  But now I have to take things seriously.  Commit to mileage.  Respond to everyone asking what I’m doing this weekend with the words, “Running.” Download several hundred episodes of Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me.

The funny thing is, even though this is my third time to the marathon rodeo…  Even though I’ve trained for (I think) fourteen or so half marathons….  Even though I’ve run countless 5 and 10ks…

It still royally sucks to get going again.

On the first weekend run I couldn’t remember where I put anything, and I still forgot things once I left and was too far gone to turn around and come back. My minutes per mile, which was with a pack, were fine, but it all felt unfamiliar.  I also went to my first pilates class ever, which was both awesome and terrible.  Awesome because it worked areas that I needed to have worked and terrible because it worked areas that I needed to have worked.

They say that you never forget how to ride a bike once you learn… which is sort of true.  I hadn’t ridden a bike in years and when I moved to Oxford I was forced to.  I spent the first week crashing a lot but after awhile I got the hang of it.  So let’s hope the saying sticks… That once you run a marathon you never forget.  Though, to think of it, I must forget something because I have a tendency to keep signing up for these things.

Oh yes, please donate to me so I have no choice but to train.

[1] You probably think I don’t like Runner’s World.  Quite the opposite, in my opinion it is the most complete runner’s magazine out there.  I recommend it if you are starting out or want to keep up to date with running.  And maybe, one day, I’ll be on the cover… wind in my hair… perfectly coordinated outfit flowing in the breeze…

3,658

Hi there to my dedicated group of 16 or so readers.  I realised something this morning that I thought I should share: I’m getting about as bad at blog posting as the seasons of Sherlock are becoming… highly irregular.  Hopefully, like Sherlock, once my posts do come they are complete and well-formed, preferably with no long list of drugs involved.

So, here’s my year in review: I did stuff last year.  Stuff that wasn’t always running stuff.  Went places, did various activities, ate, slept.  Outside of that I attempted to figure out my small child who has a very interesting mind.  Take for instance yesterday.  Yesterday was my birthday and, according to the candles he insisted I buy, I am 3,658 years old.

That’s right people, it’s time to come clean: I am a Time Lord.

Also, yesterday wasn’t actually MY birthday.  It was OUR birthday, I needed to share it with him.  Except, when he was asked, we weren’t sharing, it was his birthday.  Most importantly, he had all rights to the birthday cake… and the orange number 6 of the 3,658 years old that I am.

Funny thing is his actual birthday, in my opinion, falls in a far better time.  Stuff, for instance, is actually open.  If I was a small child in England the number of things closed the moment the holidays end is staggering.  Amusement parks?  Nope.  Some of the local manor houses with awesome playgrounds?  Nope.  All closed up until February or March.  I’m grateful that my younger years were spent in a place with the seasons of “Summer” and “Not Summer.”  And that “Not Summer” is defined as two weeks sometime in January.

So, what’s this year for me, now that I’ve just turned 3,658 years old?  Perhaps I’ll get the parking brake fixed on the TARDIS, but as that’s never been a priority for me.  I’ve got a third marathon to run, which I’ve been properly prepping for and now have to hit the real mileage training.  I’ve been learning to crochet granny squares, which I intend to make into a really long scarf (it’s a Time Lord thing).  I’m working on attempting to be more creative here and there, and keeping up with my active meditation app.  I’m patiently waiting for the new version of the Undress (seriously, if you are female… or male and are totally cool with wearing a dress… and do any form of exercise you need one).

And I’ll probably watch the new movie for Star Wars about 20 or 30 times.  All my Star Trek readers I’m hoping you’ll accept me for who I am as I love you despite our differences.

I’ll do my best not to be so hideous in my blogs.  To be honest, England still fascinates me and I need to share all the crazy wonderfulness with people.

Here’s to the next 2,721 years until my next re-generation.

 

Marathon Training Review, October 2015

Well, I’ve begun.

This of course means I’ve gotten a cold immediately and have had to readjust my schedule.

I’ve always sort of questioned the marathon training season as it falls into “awful winter season” and ends, usually on the day of the marathon, with either the hottest, coldest, or rainiest day on record (take your pick).

“But,” you say, “You’ve willingly taken this sort of thing on more than once, didn’t you know this is what is going to happen?”

Yep.  But I can marvel at the madness of it all much like some people marvel at the fact that the sun keeps managing to rise every day… except for those people who live in places where the sun doesn’t at certain points of the year.

I digress.

So yeah, I’ve adjusted my schedule down slightly but otherwise have stayed on track.  As I’m in the “running for running’s sake” portion of the training I’m not too fussed.  One of the things I’ve picked up on is that my body, outside of the cold, is pretty cool with running more regularly after the first week.  The first week it was like, “&*%*!!!” (exact words) but after that it was fine.

And so I enter into November.  For fun I’ve again signed up for Nanowrimo, which means that I will be writing a marathon while training for a marathon.  This is because I welcome both mental and physical pain, obviously.

I’ve also managed to get close to halfway for my initial fundraising goal, which is a guilt fuel.  (Thank you to those who have already donated – and to the mystery donor who jumped me to my halfway point!)  Remember, every pound you donate results in me putting on my shoes and pounding out the miles whether I want to or not.

Until next time!