Post Tom Cruise (aka The Tom Cruise Recovery Period)

Tom Cruise in Oxford (last one, I promise!)

A post shared by Cristin Merritt (@cmerritt42) on

(Props to Instagram who managed to cut me out of this video in the cropping phase.  They know who the real star is!  Right?!? RIGHT?!?!)

So obviously I need to give up posting about running as I’ve gone from tens to, like, a hundred people a day stopping by to read my blog post.  In fact, here’s a link to my first post as it will likely be viewed more times than any other post I ever post, ever.

I wonder if writing about running with Tom Cruise means I’ll get up to 150 views?  (I stress the word “with” as the whole stalker thing would be way weird and considering the shape that guy is in I wouldn’t be able to catch him.  I’m realistic in my fantasies, okay?)

I must say, though, there has been some fun things that have happened since the encounter.  First, I’ve gotten lots of random tweets from all over the place.  And I’ve been retweeted a lot.  I didn’t know you could retweet so much by so many and that there were so many with Tom Cruise as their icon or their wallpaper or in their name…

Second, I got into our local paper! So I learned it’s likely the Mummy that they are shooting.  And, as a former Classics student I can say if there way one place to film a mummy flick, Oxford is totally it.  Hopefully this mummy knows Latin because that’s all they speak in Oxford.  Nobody knows what they are saying, but they speak it a lot.  This is fact. Quidquid latine dictum, altum videtur.  No joke.

Third, I’ve actually been linked to SOMEONE ELSE’S BLOG.  That’s, like, never happened.  This person writes about monster movies and they complimented me!  Linked AND complimented me!

All I need now is a brief acknowledgement from John Barrowman that I might exist and I would hit the social media trifecta.  (Fact, until John Barrowman acknowledges your existence you are, in fact, a figment of your own imagination.)

And if I monetise this I’m then on my way to FFFF-internet star famous. [1]

Finally, the whole experience was cool and I’m glad of my part in it.  I was impressed that Mr. Cruise took the time to connect with people out to see him when, in all actuality, he could’ve chosen another path.  Like him or not that guy is 100% professional and I could tell he takes his very public job seriously.

So, thank you to Mr. Cruise for that on behalf of a looney runner on mile 18.8 of 20.  Trust me when I say I’m taking this one with me for the rest of my days!

[1] That link goes to the charities that I was out training for when I ran into Tom Cruise. So no personal gain here!  I run the London Marathon on April 24, 2016.

 

 

 

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Ran 20 miles. Check. Met Tom Cruise. Check.

Oh, hi.

So, haven’t written in awhile.  I did this family holiday thing in Orlando (where I completed a 15 mile run as well as a likely 10k while hauling 4-year-old across the Magic Kingdom).  I have done plenty of core training via pole fitness.  I didn’t meet my 18-mile run goal but as it’s now pretty dang close to the London Marathon I thought “Eh, I’ve run 2 marathons already, so I’ll just skip to the 20-miler and all will be good.”  I rested all Saturday and looked at the pleasantly-overcast Sunday as the ideal day.

Oh, man, the pain.  I’ve got so much figured out, but my hips this run where so unhappy.  I had altered my run slightly to ensure I ran through as many pretty places of Oxford as possible to keep my mind off of it.  I had backlogged podcasts so I had plenty to listen to.  I had eaten bananas… so many bananas.

It was mile 18.8.  I know this because this was the point I pulled out my phone.  I was at the Radcliffe Camera, which cuts over to this really cool passage that I thought would be an excellent way to end (and also conveniently near a bus stop home).  It’s a beautiful area. Seriously, look:

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Funny thing the area you see to the right of the screen was blocked off.  Some people with barriers and yellow jackets.  I immediately realised that there was a high likelihood of filming going on in the area.  There is lots of filming in Oxford, so I pulled my phone out and thought I would see about capturing some of it.  It would likely be an Inspector Lewis or perhaps a documentary… sometimes cool things like X-Men get filmed there and there was hearsay that Benedict Cumberbatch filmed at Trinity College not too long ago.

Regardless, the whole little event would get my mind off the pain I was feeling.  Not to mention the fact that my brain kindly reminded me that if this were the real deal I would be undergoing 8 more miles of said pain.

As I approached the Bodleian Library I saw a knot of people with cameras and the top of a head.  My first thought was, “Oh, wow, it’s John Barrowman!”

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And so here is what is going through my head: “Why is John Barrowman hanging out in Oxford?  I mean, he’s actually Scottish but he lived in America for such a long time he’s never gotten his accent back.  Isn’t he actually doing a series in America?  Maybe he’s doing something here.  I loved him in Doctor Who…  Oh, I can get closer…”

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“My husband is going to be so jealous.  Wow, he’s got a lot of security with him I didn’t think he’d have so much but that’s cool.  And he’s talking to people… funny… that doesn’t sound like his voice.  That sounds a lot like Tom Cruise…”

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“Holy pile of expletives, that IS Tom Cruise.”

I had managed through some sort of will, or perhaps because I was at mile 18.8 and likely smelled very much like it that a hole in the barrier had opened up and he was working my way.  Mr. Cruise spent a few moments with every person and was very polite.  He also looked amazing.  I mustered every ounce of polite attitude and patience to make sure everyone who was there before me got their chance (it’s the British way).  He looked at me and said hello.  I told him I was out on a twenty mile training run and didn’t expect to see him in route.  His response, “Twenty miles?  Hey, that’s great!”  And then we got a photo:

20160403_171711Yep, the face of a guy who has made tonnes of successful films and looks like he’s 35 against the face of a woman who had almost finished her 20 mile run and looks like she’s 1.2 miles closer to totally insane.

Any way, two things:

  1. I forgot about the hip pain. (Tom fixed it with his magic.)
  2. I finished 20 miles.

Finally, I would like to invite John Barrowman to Oxford next weekend for my 22-miler.  In front of the Bodleian if you don’t mind because that is where I meet famous people. I’m totally sure he can do this.  And, if you can’t, John, I’m cool with a picture of you with a sign saying, “GO CRISTIN!  WHOEVER YOU ARE!”

Thanks.

Author’s Update:  My husband has informed me that currently John Barrowman is frolicking in a pool in Palm Springs, California, in red high heels according to recent Facebook posts.  As this is totally awesome I can understand if he cannot make my Oxford request immediately.  However, if he can make the sign whilst frolicking in red high heels my whole life would pretty much be complete. 

 

The difference between running and completing a marathon.

I’ve been seeing this a lot in the communities that I’m on for my fundraising:

“I’m not able to run a full [insert number of miles].  How can I run a marathon?  I think I’ll give up.”

For those training for London 2016 we’re all reaching the high mileage point in our training.  The period in which you really are spending your weekends running or recovering from running.

Let’s be clear here: THIS. IS. THE. HARD. PART.

How on earth do you run all those miles?  How in the world do you think you’ll get over through?

First, and most importantly, right now I want you to change your wording.

You are not running x miles – you’re completing x miles.

You are not running a marathon – you’re completing a marathon.

There is a phrase, “Life is a marathon, not a sprint.”  Think about it – life has it’s easy parts and it’s hard parts.  It has it’s ups and it’s downs.  Marathons are the exact same way.  You’re going to have good training days and bad ones.  Highs and lows.  You’ll get on the course and the weather could be wonderful or crap.  You could end up stuck behind a million people unable to get your pace on track or with wide spaces and plenty of room to move.

But when you say to yourself, “Today I am completing a marathon,” you give yourself permission to experience the race for what it is.  To allow the good and the bad, to welcome on positive terms.  Because whether you run a marathon, run/walk a marathon, or walk a marathon so long as you cross that finish line you have FINISHED.  You have COMPLETED.  No one will come and take your medal because you didn’t meet some arbitrary time you set for yourself.

And that’s the thing, we’re our own worst critics.  I promise you that years from now someone will look at your medal and say, “Wow!  You finished a marathon?” and not “Huh,  you finished a marathon in 4:23:10.  You must’ve been having a pretty crap day.  What were your split times?  You know I thought you could run faster than this.”

So this weekend when you are out completing your mileage keep that in mind: You are moving forward.  Whether you run it our walk it or both – you will be one more training session closer to your goal.

I promise you can do this.

Honest, I’ve done two and my pace is best described as “sloth.”

Three Things You Can Do When Training Goes *SPLAT*

I am broken.

In a perfect world this would mean a trip to a person mechanic, £1,000 in parts, and back on the 12 miles in under a week.

Instead it was a trip to the GP where I was told “It’s viral.  Rest and fluids.”

Now those of you who have been following me with abject devotion will know that either in November/December or February/March I really like to get sick.  My specialty is something in the chest – either viral, infection, or what everyone really likes in my workplace: My ability to speak disappearing. [1]

I have half a voice and a really incredible cough at the moment.  Shame these gifts aren’t appreciated in public.  You can check-out in supermarkets really fast, though.

Chances are if you aren’t a devoted fan (and you should be, because I am amazing) you might have stumbled here because you may be under the weather yourself.  As a seasoned running marathon-like person (I have medals, swear!) I can tell you that these things happen.  Training is long, and in many a marathon case it goes through seasons where colds, flu, viruses and dreaded lurgy are common.  One will likely come for you.  But all is not lost.  Here are three things you can do when you’re training has gone splat due to illness [2]:

Resistance Band Exercises.

As I am a slow runner my biggest issue is form.  After about mile 10 I’ve learned that my knees start wandering (seriously, I think they went to Bath once I and was in Edinburgh) and my feet start to move towards ‘penguin waddle.’  I’ve taken on some exercises out of a running magazine which aren’t invasive but work my hips and knees.  You just grab a set of resistance bands, which aren’t expensive nor difficult to store, and walk through the exercises – which take 5 to 10 minutes, depending on where you are in the training.  It’s sort of a little walk around that may mix up your day of daytime television, Netflix, and Kardashian re-runs.  Once you are better and you start your little trots about you’ll notice that those few minutes spent running through the motions with those silly bands pay off.  So grab some bands and Google yourself some moves.  It will help!

Mental Work

The mental aspect of distance running is just as important as the physical.  You go into any race of any length in a bad mood and it’s going to cost you.  You go into any race convinced you can’t do it and I promise you, you’ll live up to that thought.  You’re probably kicking yourself right now because you’re not feeling well.

Stop it.  You’ve come across the best running blog in the universe.  By default this means you must be an incredibly talented person with excellent taste in shoes.

I love this little group who came up with Buddhify and Cards for Mindfulness (I have tweets from the founder to me – sqeee!).  I use both constantly.  Buddhify has meditations on illness, including one that talks about how crummy things like this are temporary and how to work through the negative mindset that comes with illness.  I’ve actually re-purposed these and ones on stress on days where I’m dreading running.

Seek those recommendations out, or search out your own.  But downtime like this is good time to focuse on mental health.  May even make you better faster.

Nutrition

So who amongst you while ill decides you’ll feel better once you eat that leftover ice cream, donuts, and remaining Easter candy from 2012?  No one?

I do.  I eat horribly while ill, and that’s not a good thing.

I think it’s always about comfort.  “I’m sick,” I say to myself, “Poor me.  I need cookie dough.”  And then a few hours later I’m regretting the whole thing.

If you are down, might as well look at your food plan.  I have been trying to get more veggies into my life.  In fact, I’m fascinated with vegan (aka plant based) cook books. I’m a massive Isa Chandra Moskowitz and the very NSFW Thug Kitchen fan.  The stuff you can do with cauliflower! If you need more inspirational/structure the Happy Herbivore will teach you things like how to make potatoes that come pretty close to the Big Mac.

By no means do I expect you to turn into a hippie whilst ill, but there are tons of blogs, mags, and books on better nutrition.  While you are flat on your back healing start reading and trying things out.  Gets your mind off being sick, and you may find some more healthy and diverse food options in your life.

So, there you have it.  Three things you can do when you can’t log those miles.

Now, go feel better.  And nice shoes.

[1] As I am American in a 99% British office I think there is a general appreciation that for a few days a year the people I work with can be spared all the mauling of their language.

[2] Finally, I’m not a doctor.  I’m not a GP.  I’m not a nurse.  I don’t hold a PhD.  These are things I do when I’m feeling ill, but it may not work for you.  If you get sick and want to keep training in some way, shape, or form always check with your doctor.

Also, I’m fundraising for London 2016.  Acts of kindness and generosity are also bound to make you feel better, and will force me away from the cookie dough and into the roasted chickpea and broccoli burritos.  Mmm… roasted chickpea and broccoli burritos.

 

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.