Ran 12 miles. No John Barrowman.

After looking at the time between my 20 miles and the marathon I realised that it would be pretty close to silly to attempt 22 and then allow less than 10 days to be in a good place to run the 26.2.

So, I decided on 12.

It was a lovely run.  I ran by the canals.  They are lovely in the Spring.  Here’s a photo:

JB_Oxford_canal_boat_entering_lock_bridge_above.jpg

I managed to accidentally turn off my GPS at mile 4, so I have no idea how long it took me, what my splits were, etc.  However, I know it was 12 miles because I’ve actually memorised that much road/trail in the city.  This coincides with the fact that once you live in Oxford long enough you understand that driving in the city is incredibly foolish and running marathons make perfect sense.  In some cases you can run a marathon and your friend or family member can transverse 1.2 miles of Botley Road in the exact same time.

This is a fact.  Though maybe it’s really 1 mile.  So… plus or minus .2 miles for the sake of ‘wiggle room’ on this fact.

Also, Oxfordians are turned eccentric not because of the university.  Instead it is done through a process called ‘being stuck on Botley Road for 6 hours for no apparent reason.’

Also fact.

So, any way, because I changed my mileage from 22 to 12 miles John Barrowman and I didn’t meet up. I’m sure that’s the reason why.  Not that he’s based in California at the moment or anything.  Or that the whole idea of him coming to Oxford to meet someone he doesn’t know is a bit… weird.  But we didn’t meet up this time.

Maybe next time,  John.  I’m sure he’s crushed.  Likely oblivious, but I’m going with crushed.

14 days until London.

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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.

 

 

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…

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!

How to plan your marathon training in 6 easy steps.

  1. Grab a handy weekly planner.  You’ll need about 15-17 weeks to properly train for a marathon.
  2. Search the web for training plans that meet your marathon goals.  Though I hasten to add you need to be realistic in your planning.  If you have, for instance, never run a marathon before you may want to consider solidly finishing your first over qualifying for Boston.
  3. Once you’ve found a good plan get your calendar out.  On the days you work, block out work time.
  4. Every other free space you have left write in “running.” You can elaborate to match your plan later, but this is pretty much what you’ll be doing.
  5. Say goodbye to your friends, family, and social life.
  6. Begin marathon training.

Donate now for extra tips on why the above is seemingly a good idea for me for the third time.

I ran the whole f***ing way.

Oxford, May 11th 2014

In what can be described best as “the closest we’ve gotten yet to Hell freezing over” a long time “walk/runner” and well known “snail” ran a whole f***ing 10k.

“I ran the whole f***ing thing,” she is quoted as saying.

News agents on the site can verify she’s never run that f***ing long in an actual, timed race and that because she’s not fully trained up she’s really going to hurt tomorrow [1].

When asked why she ran the whole f***ing thing she was quoted as saying, “Because when you’ve got two of the best f***ing people in the world to run for, you f***ing run.”

chickenThe runner would like to point out that she was, however, beaten by a f***ing fully grown man in a chicken suit. (See photo insert.)

“I’ve got to keep some level of standards.  When I lived in Texas a large f***ing pumpkin would often pass me at 5ks and some traditions should be kept alive.”

Her time came in at slightly over 1 hour, 13 minutes beating her old time of 1 hour, 14 minutes.

“This may not seem important to most people, mainly most English runners because, f***, those people are committed, but it’s stupid fast for me.”

The chicken beat her by two minutes.

[1] The runner can report that she was, in fact, in a f*** load of pain the next day.

On attempting.

This is a phenomena to me, but then again, I went to a state school.  I have come across not once, not twice, but at least three times an individual who says something to the effect of, “Well, I would run a marathon but I’m afraid I wouldn’t be at my best.”

WHAT?!?!?

These individuals, who in my opinion are lean, athletic, and mentally tough won’t try something because they are afraid that they WON’T WIN.

Or place in the top twenty.  You know, like most of us do.

Perhaps this is because it is Oxford, but as a non-posh college grad all I have to say is: If you go through life not attempting things because you won’t be the absolute best, then what is the point of attempting anything?

I’m crap at running.  Utter crap.  I will never place in an event unless everyone else dies on the course.  (I did place once, actually, but I was somehow registered as a small male child.)  But I keep at it, I’ve even gotten better.  Last night I ran over the bridge and didn’t stop.  This is a huge accomplishment for me.  Hills are my new challenge – I don’t want to fear them.  But I digress.

The point is that sometimes I marvel at how people tackle obstacles.  Marathon running isn’t for sissies, I’ll admit that much.  But when someone tosses an obstacle question in your way and your response is, “I’m afraid,” and when pushed says, “I’m afraid I won’t live up to my expectations,” I have to tell you to shut it.

There will be times you don’t live up to your expectations, no matter how reasonable those expectations are.  It’s life, it happens.  The whole point of living is to live, and whether it is running a marathon or trying something outside your comfort zone the point is to attempt.  If you fail, you fail.  Get up, fail again, go back, fail again.  Take a risk, fail.  No one ever wins by winning all the time.  But no one ever wins if they don’t first attempt.

So here’s the deal:  If you are thinking of running a marathon sign up and run a marathon.  Or walk a marathon.  Or hobble a marathon.  It doesn’t matter.  Because once you finish a marathon no one will ever take it away from you.  And if you want, challenge yourself again, do better, do worse – but challenge yourself.  Heck, maybe one day after all those challenges you’ll place in the top twenty, or you’ll win.

Don’t give me the excuse that you don’t want to break your perfect record, because you will one day.  Might as well do it by choice.