Saturday, 30 May 2015

Anxious legs, nighttime zoo, final prep...

Tomorrow it'll all be over. A bit more than 24 hours from now, unless I finish it in an ambulance having collapsed along the way. Sitting on the back-steps in the sunshine in Edinburgh, with a cup of normal(ish) tea. Finding a normal cup of tea in my sister's house is like sourcing a plain black vest-top in a vintage clothes boutique. I know what I want, I know exactly what it'll go with, it will make me happy and comfortable. No I don't want a shift dress with a mesmerising magic eye pattern, or a real crocodile handbag, or a tie-dyed halter neck, or a bandage wrap top, or any of these other things instead. 

I just want a cup of tea dammit. I'm not averse to fancy tea now and again, but not for breakfast. You can keep your fancy schmancy coloured boxes, and flavours and smells. There are too many variables already in this run, so many things could go wrong...I've already cut my finger this morning without even realising, I don't need any more give me a cup of tea.

What are these tea bags in the suspicious unmarked tub?


Rwandan?! I'm not a tea racist. I don't need to know it's ethnic origin...I just need to know if it's normal. (In so much as any of us are normal...I know. But you know what I mean...)

Rwandan it is then. It tastes mostly normal.

I think I might be a bit highly strung.

I did my last run yesterday morning, along a part of the route - out of Musselburgh, towards Prestonpans - and found a little street called Hope Place about mile 9, which, depending on your state of mind, could be a welcome, comforting sign from the world that all will be well, or a snide laugh in your face from the planners as you drag your failing carcass by...

I'm going to go for welcome and comforting. Which is how I took the aggressive toot from a pimped up Polo yesterday, and the big fake sneeze from the white van men I passed...what a super way to show support. I've been completely amazed, surprised and delighted by everyone's interest, generosity and kindness of thought, advice, support and cash over this last couple of months.

I have been stuck in a bit of a rut this last couple of years, and thought having a goal might be a good way to turbo-power my way out of it. And I thought entering a half marathon might not be enough, but if I was to run for charity...that would utilise my innate (?Catholic) guilt for good and ensure I actually did it. There are loads of great charities around, and you can't support them all, so I picked one for a cause important to me (like a sob story on X-factor, there's nothing like a personal cause to help people part with their cash. I'm sure Patrick would have been royally mortified that people were giving so much in his name, but there we are...). 

The great thing about supporting a Mental Health charity is that the non-money bit of fund-raising, putting the idea out there and getting people talking is as, if not more, important as the money bit - being part of the change in attitude towards mental health, being part of the conversation, being the person who saw this cause, spoke to their friend and realised they had worries in common, or became a support to someone who thought they were alone. 

So I am enormously grateful for all the donation, and actually properly astounded, and I hope that a few people have started a difficult conversation, or looked after themselves or others a bit. Take some time to recharge, do things you enjoy, and be kind to yourself. Maybe avoid the company of highly strung, grumpy runners, for the moment, they might only bring you down...  

As far as prep goes I'm off out on a hunt for a pocket, which seems a bit like going to buy a bit of emptiness, but I just need a home for some jelly babies. Either that or they'll be strategically placed with my "crew"...imagining my mother lobbing jelly babies at me from Hope Place is really intensifying the hunt. As I cantered (I may have done a small whinny) past Mussleburgh racecourse I wondered if I should have had someone rub linement into my legs before now, but too late if I should have. I'm startign to worry about changing anything, or going anywhere in case I get too tired. Another pointless trip up the stairs - why did I run? Why can I not just walk like a normal person, or maybe crawl to share the load, I must conserve my if I'm going to run out of steps mid race (hopefully not). 

Among my ongoing worries - 

I walked too much at nighttime zoo and my legs are tired (I've never been so acutely aware of my legs before), I also went dressed in running clothes and anorak, and the first person I met was a girl reapplying make-up in the toilets. One of us has missed a memo, I thought. The ticket did say not to come in animal costume...but beyond that appropriate attire was open to interpretation. I think the rhino was my favourite. 
I have not tried the pants/leggings combination I've decided on, and I really don't think I can fix that midrace. Mother - meet me at Hope Place with inappropriate pants, 3 jelly babies and an oversized trenchcoat to hide the change.
My feet are tired. I think. 
I haven't decided what to eat today yet.
I have to catch a bus at 6am. If it starts with 5 then you should not be awake, in my opinion. a 6am bus is hideous. I'm not even going to be awake until mile 5.
I'll sleep in. 
I won't be able to sleep.
I've lost my race number (I've checked a few times a day, it is still there).
I'll fall over. Or I'll make someone else fall over. In my head I imagine us running along to the Benny Hill tune, so many people, we have to run exactly in step, and then I fall over, or elbow someone and cause a pile up.
I'll need the toilet when there is not toilet.
I'll go to the toilet and there'll be no toilet paper. If I bring my own the only place I could keep it is in my sports bra, it'll get sweat soaked and I'll end up with a papier-mache cast of my chest.
I'll get lost finding the start line.
I'll accidentally sprint off and not be able to stop myself. Or I'll forget how to run.
I'll be too cold, or too hot.
My outfit doesn't match. I know this isn't very important...but I'm still a little bit worried about it.
There are probably more, but that's keeping me going for the moment.

It's meant to rain tomorrow. Which I'd rather, if the choice is that or big heat, but I hope it's not just too soggy.

Some other great places to go for info Scottish Association for Mental HealthMindMHF. Or I had a Black Dog is worth a watch.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

The final countdown...

So the countdown is on. 5 days till race day, one work day till holidays, 2 runs till the big run. Too late to make any difference?

After a low motivation week last week, where I was almost entirely stationary (staying still, not pencils and rubbers...) I'm back on the wagon. Yesterday I did my Sunday big run, it was Monday, I know, but it was a cracking night so I'm glad I waited, it felt mostly fine.

I ran down my arch enemy (sounds a bit like a superhero criminal confession...). There is one road near me that I hate running up.  I don't hate it in itself, it's an ok road, plenty to look at, fairly quiet, peerie coos and lambs to look at, but I really find it difficult to run up. It's not the biggest hill I've run up by any stretch, or the steepest. I think it's because it used to always be the end of my route when I was just starting out, and in my head it's shorter and flatter, and I always used to stop some of the way up. Psycho-barrier...the Toab triangle of I ran down it instead of up it. Whatever you run down you have to run back up somewhere...but the up at the other end didn't seem so bad, so long, so soul destroying...the Toab road has the added bonus of farm-poo smells. Which all at once makes you run further, but practice slooow, relaxed, shallow breathing. The kind of smell that's almost solid, where you can almost feel the cow-poo particles flying into your mouth...yeeuugh. Great training tool. After running down it yesterday, I ran up it today.

Psychological barrier, conquered.

A less than psychological long run barrier I encountered last night, which could prove problematic, is what I'm going to call the bingo-wing burn. Like chub-rub on your arm. Just one arm, if you happen to look up that half-marathon action pic, which is sure to be a beaut, note the quasimodo, riding tiny invisible horse, whipped in the eye, sweating, maybe drooling mutlicoloured jelly baby blood, with my right arm on fire from a friction burn. Or maybe my arms waving out to the side to avoid said friction burn. Or maybe with protective armbands. Or dripping lubricating grease from my upper arms, a pat of lard under each oxter. I haven't worked out how to solve the bingo-burn yet, and am running out of runs to solve it on...

I think I really need to work around it, accommodate it, not eliminate it. Maybe you have one big boob, or one big arm, or both...they said. Too late to change that. And the boobs must be contained. The hardware required to contain them is substantial. It cannot be minimalised, for health and safety reasons. The stitching may well be causing the bingo-burn, but the structural'd be like taking the wires off a suspension bridge. Better come up with a plan before Sunday. Maybe a plaster...?

While I'm getting my excuses in, I'm still deliberating about pants. I'm sure you've all been gripped by the ongoing saga. I've narrowed it down to two. Big and little. I'm veering towards big. Maybe because that's what I know. I wonder if little gets the same kind of brain response as knowing I'm running a really long way. If I know I have a long way to go, I don't get tired early on because I know there are still many miles to plod, I am resigned to the fact, and comfortable with it. Little pants are an automatic wedgie. They're made for it. They're meant to be like that, so it's less distressing. Is it comfortable...or am I just resigned to the fact...I'm not sure yet. I am not contemplating commando...though I've heard it's the done thing in some running circles. I'm fairly sure your first half marathon is not the time to try it out.

And the new shoes. I love my new shoes. But they don't have a space in the sole for my little pedometer sensor thing, which is a bit annoying, so I got it a little pouch that threads through my laces, but the little pouch is a bit too big. I have an ongoing debate, me, myself and Nike, God of Running Shoes. Nike, I say, I like your sensor, I like what it tells me, but I'm beginnign to think it's holding me back. 20g on the end of my stumpy leg? That must add up to something. How about the extra 20kg of Lucy your lugging around? The extra big boob/arm you're contending with? Even by all the laws of physics, 20g on the end of the shortest legs in the running business does not slow a slow thing down. It's like a sparrow perching on a monster truck.

Whatever, Nike.

So if I manage to pick the right pants, find somewhere to store my jelly babies (another disadvantage to small pants...?), solve the bingo-burn problem, get over the gait altering 20g sensor, work out what to do with the whip hair, not over-heat, not carb-load to the point of runner belly (I was so sure carb-loading was going to be my thing, the bit of running I'd excel at, what I lack in running ability I am going to make up for in carb-loading excellence, I thought I was going to nail it. Now I'm worried I'm not even going to be good at that. Imagine failing at eating. Carbs, of all things. I love carbs. Oh the disappointment), I'll be sorted, right? Wrong. I know where I'll fall down. I know why I'm better running on my own, and why the idea of running in a huge ginormous crowd scares me.

Today, at work, a real life worry came to light. Not mine, a colleague's.

"I think I might be too ginger for jigsaws."

I don't know if this thought has ever been thought before, but now it's in my head...I'm starting to worry. Do you like jigsaws, she asked. Yes, well, I like competitive jigsawing. Which we did at Christmas, Dad having got K, F and I similair but different jigsaws, pretty, but maybe they're not really my thing. What if you had a race to finish them, Dad suggested. Oh, they are so my thing now.

I love a bit of pointless competition. I do like to win, but I'm happy with trying hard, the less important the better. I'm not too fussed on exams, or work competition, I don't want to be smarter, or the fastest over 100m, but an obstacle race, or highest tower of sweeties, pub quiz, hopping race, standing long jump, hula-hoop (I can't even do one revolution, not much of a competitor), fastest jigsawing. I am in. If noone else is doing it, I'm not all that interested, I don't jigsaw for the sake of jigsawing, I jigsaw for the sake of competition. Fiery...competitive...redhead? Am I too ginger for jigsaws...?

My running pace profiles (which my lovely, but oh so heavy, sensor gives me) could be annotated with fast spikes representing who rode/drove past me. The joys of neighbourhood running - forces me to regular bursts of quick, trying to look effortless, between that and farm-poo, recovery runs become interval sessions. I want to look like I can run, I don't want to look slow and steady. I want to be the luminous pink gazelle I see in my head (strangely I don't see her reflected in windows I run past...must be a trick of the light). I'm competitive, a little bit with myself, a big bit with other people.

So running in a crowd...will I be able to stay slow, warm up, do it like I've done in training? Or will I pick out people I think I should be faster than (entirely judgementally...) and canter past, with my effortless face on. When I meet one car, bike, person, rack up a toot and wave or two per mile the bursts are manageable, but I can't maintain it for 13 miles worth of tooting, whooping, waving, watching...I'll maybe need to make sure and win at something on Saturday, feed the competition beast before the run.

I'm scared. I think I'll have to be an anti-social runner. I don't want a run buddy. I'll stick to my sensor, and come up with a plan.

Who knew running was so complicated...

I'll check in again, but in case I'm slower on Sunday than you hoped I'd be, take note of all the barriers above, One of them is sure to have held me back...

Any final donations more than welcome here if you can't donate, take some time to yourself for your mental 'elf (could write a bit of poetry like that), or ask someone else how they are. Ask it like you want to know the answer. Ideally actually do want to know the answer...

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Fanciness Quotient

I've recently had a bit of a change of work scene, on secondment, not far, but different. It's super. When I got it people said, ooh, they're all so nice, and so fancy! These people looked a bit worried for me when they said it. Almost like they didn't think I was fancy...(niceness is a whole different story)

To be honest I was a bit worried myself. After the foot-bag debacle, I often wonder what other beauty-fashion-style tips, tricks and moments I'm missing out on. I continue the facade of being an actual girl, an occasionally girly-girl, maybe a little bit fancy, but under real scrutiny it's hard.

I got engaged over the festive. The ring didn't fit my stumpy finger (let's call it big-boned), so off I went for my first visit to a ring shop. I've never really worn a ring. I didn't even know ballpark answers to the questions. I didn't even understand some of the questions. Is it worth risking faking it, for something you'll have to wear forever...?

Hairy Mr had employed quite a rigorous criteria in picking the ring all by himself, I was quite impressed. He thought I'd be mad if he spent too much (true), he thought one with a big sticky-out bit (?diamond...?) would get in the way and annoy me (probably true), he thought the "straight across ones" were boring, so he got "a spiky one". Brilliant. I think it's technically wishbone...and I actually think it's perfect, it elongates the big-boned beaut of a finger. But it was too small.

What size are you normally? She asked. Dress size, shoe size, bra size, height, weight, I can do. Ring size? Don't even know where to start.

Is the metal ok? She, is it fit for purpose? Happy? Strong enough? The right colour? I have no idea.

Do your hands go up and down much? She said. Jackpot, I thought. I know this one - they are attached to my arms, they go up and down every time I move my arms, like the whole time! I'm not sure that's what she meant, she didn't appreciate me demonstrating. She didn't even find it funny. Not in a romantic moment like the sweaty palmed frantic trying on of rings you know nothing about. Does it fit? I don't know, how do I know if it fits? Can I jam it on? Does it not fall off? do I need to be able to whirl it round or wiggle it up and down?

Anyway, I got a ring that fitted, and this was not meant to be about that...

So I'm not fancy. But I think I'm getting a tiny bit fancier, by osmosis, lapping it up from the office. I have found a gap in provision for those who aren't just all that fancy, but might want to branch out.

I've been buying new fancy fruit. (on offer, mother). And I think fruit is the one food that doesn't come with instructions. How are you supposed to know what to do? Peel it? I don't want to be the one chowing down on a pineapple, skin and all, just because it sounds a bit like an apple...

I felt so fancy buying figs. I kept them at the top of my basket. I told too many people. Oh excuse me, did I accidentally bump you with my fig-filled basket? Do I need a bag? Oh for my FIGS? No, no, people who buy figs also bring canvas shopping bags. Having to research what to do with them brought me back down to earth.

Pomegranates - same. How in the name of God do they make a juice out of it? And how do you get the little beasts out? The Jamie Oliver hit it with a spoon and they all scatter beautifully on the plate thing? Doesn't work out like that. It's pretty messy, but tasty. I'm still deciding if it's worth the effort.

The most recent entry on the fruit with no instructions list - Sharon Fruit. Doesn't it sound nice and amiable, friendly, ordinary, maybe Brummie or something? Almost not fancy. Until you realise it's actually called Persimmon. Who could be an uppity public school boy. Definitely not a Sharon, but there we are. It looks like a yellowy orange tomato. I haven't eaten one yet. Apparently there are two kinds (you can get a serious grounding in all things fancy from a bit of googling), one of the kinds you eat when barely ripe, crisp and taut, the other you eat when it's really soft and squishy, otherwise it's disgusting.

I think Sharon's the crisp, taut kind. I think.

Getting fancier, one fruit at a time.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Run(/life) Lesson - Do not eat all the food

The runner lessons continue. I think this learning process is as much a reason for training as the physical fitness. Learning the precise ways in which you are stupid really prepares you for challenges.

Lesson 1: drink while running (water specifically...see Number 2)
Lesson 2: Don't drink wine. While running, or before running, or for a week before, or at all maybe.... 
Lesson 3: Don't eat all of the food. And when I say "all of the food" I don't mean on your plate, I'm all for plate clearing (I might do well to change my attitude on that one...). I mean all the food in your house. And your shopping bags that you have just filled with food.

This past weekend was my 12 miler. The pinnacle of my training before "the taper" (not the tapier, zoo-friends, though that might be a fun introduction to training. I like to think I could outrun a tapier...but I'm not sure. I might start my animal racing against a sloth, or a penguin, on land). 12 miles...I'd run 8, slowly but surely, then 10 on the brink of death by dehydration, I'd been running a little bit faster this past couple of weeks, maybe thanks to my new slip-slidey leggings and bouncy shoes. I was starting to consider 5 miles "just" 5 miles. I think I was ready. I'd practiced eating a whole bag of jelly babies (not while running, just throughout the's good to be prepared, all the running articles say so), I'd decided my route (twice around Spiggie with a wee bit added on) I'd even practiced wearing my new running pants (while running, unlike the jelly babies).

I made myself a little water/baby hiding place, parked up, sneaked into the Hotel for a final nervous pee, and I was off. And knowing I had such a long way to go, and that I probably could do it, settled me, and I felt fine, why bother being grumpy when you have to endure yourself for another 2 hours? 

Then halfway round, as I thought to myself, I have been so lucky with my training, I've had almost no problems bar laziness, and the weather really has been fine dry, sunny, not windy, an apocalyptic darkness followed me up the Spiggie Hill and engulfed me...well, it was a cloud, a big black nasty cloud. With rain in it. 

And then came the runner's belly. 

Unfortunately this was not the sudden appearance of a taut six-pack which I felt compelled to go home and admire, but the rapid onset of a desparate need for facilities. The kind that deal with an urgent, jumbly, gurgly, rumbly, horror.

And so I had to stop...I wasn't ill, so within an hour or so I felt a lot better, but by that time I had to be on my way elsewhere, so I had a short...8 hour...lets call it a "walk break" where I took on some lunch, coffee and cake, and bought some new running socks to make myself feel better. 

I ran another 6 miles in the evening, but I'm not sure a 12 miler run over two legs is really what the training program called for...maybe I can opt-out on the half-way of the race, pause on the outskirts of Edinburgh, take in some sights, have a light brunch, maybe a glass of wine and a chat, then rejoin for the second half. That is apparently what I've been training for...I'd need to duck out of the way of the sweepy bus, and record a 10hour PB. 

Maybe I'll just have to suck it up and get on with it. At least I know now not to eat all the food. Which of the foods to eat is a different I've not entirely answered. Never mind the pants, socks and jelly bubs (which I didn't get to eat, by the way) what about the belly?

Belly's gonna get ya...

I got out for my recovery run last night, and I think I'm getting faster, or more tolerant to fast, which is not how recovery runs are meant to go. I just can't slow down, who'd have thought I'd be too fast come the end of 10 weeks...? I think I'm just eager to look like a proper runner, vanity when people drive by. Vanity, the belly, inappropriate pants - there are so many hidden hurdles...

I did spend a little bit of my run chasing the Peerie Viking man who has inexplicably started going for walks. For anyone who doesn't know my big hairy better half, the first time we went for a walk, a couple of years ago (I could count on three fingers how many times it had happened since, until the last few weeks...), a local taxi driver did a full on emergency stop, and screechy reverse, to enquire as to his welfare, assuming we must have broken down, or driven into a ditch and be walking for help. He would not believe we were out for a walk. Yes a walk for leisure. No we do not need assistance. Or a lift, we definitely do not need a lift. So this is quite suspicious, laudable, but unexpected behaviour. I love it.

It is so much fun chasing someone. I totally caught him, and Whhhhhoooooooppppaaaaaahh'd his bum on my way by. To be fair to him he was walking, and didn't know I was chasing him, To be fair to me, I'd have caught him anyway...

Still open for donations here...

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Life lessons from old cars

The Little Micra has developed another ailment. A fairly minor one, annoying more than anything. Not a gamechanger, but another rustily subtle reminder that he is on his way out. I wondered about getting a new car, well a nearly new, but I think I'm genetically programmed to need the character of an older gentleman of the vehicle disposition. People with new cars get mad when they break, it's just not meant to happen. When the Micra breaks I get more grateful for every trip. Well done, little fellow, you are clinging on in there. Quite remarkably well I think, 50 runkly, noisy miles a day.

There are a few driving lessons better unlearned - like judging your speed by the noise and rattling of your uninsulated bubble, rather than the fully functioning speedometer. You have to be going very, very fast before a normal car reaches those decibels. Foot to the floor braking, taking off in third gear...those kinds of things make you look a bit heavy footed and incompetent in a car that doesn't need quite the same geeing up. Let's be more Top Gear and call it handling. It handles differently. Classically.

When I was wee it felt like there was a 50/50 chance the car would start, which fairly lowers your expectations of car travel. Imagine being grateful just for the car starting - that is a whole heap of grateful every single week. I learned, early on, the shame of breaking down in a heavily trafficked area. There's only so much you can do, and embarrassment doesn't get you far. We had some pretty cool break downs - Le Mans for one, Lockerbie (admittedly not as cool, but a spectacularly bad start to the many 100s of miles to the South of France. It may have been a sign from the Gods to turn back. Parentos didn't listen to the gods...). And witnessing these, I think, gave me an underlying calm when it came to driving (passengers in the early days might dispute that...).

There are not many things that teach you the power of confident driving in the face of terror and adversity like seeing your mother negotiate the series of roundabouts that is the Kingsway in Dundee with 4 young children in a rickety van that would not change out of third gear. What better way to learn about gears than seeing your father negotiate his way down a steep hill with a series of traffic lights, using only the gears and handbrake after the brakes failed. Apologising profusely to the police, Are you aware your brake light isn't working...? And now I feel, in the same situation I'd be...well maybe calm(er). How better to learn about patience than leapfrogging up the A9 in a Daimler Limousine that puffed steam when it got tired and needed a rest. Old cars, life lessons.

And then there are the practical lessons. Clearing rural Aberdeenshire of coolant to get you to the boat in time without overheating. That did involve scouring the manual to find where coolant went. Not as embarrassing as scouring the manual to find out how to open the bonnet so I could top up my screenwash. Less embarassing still than scouring the manual to find out what the bright blue D with the lines coming out of it meant, and why everyone was sheilding their eyes and flashing at me...that was, in my defence, my second outing in the Micra, having learned to drive in the height of summer.

And Jump starts and bump starts. I'm still not sure I know how to do the bump starting...having failed to jump start 3 times while plugged into an ambulance (thankfully I think the people they jump start have a better success rate) I opted out of being in charge of the bump start on the third length of the hospital car park, kindly pushed by the same ambulance men, when it dawned on me I might be doing it wrong...and there was surely only so much strain you should put on an on-shift member of the emergency services. The ever-helpful Gear was on hand to do the bump starting. I think she's a life-lessons-from-old-cars sort too.

I've never left my lights on since. Not because I have an alarm, but because I have learned. Calling an ambulance (not 999....) to jump start your car? That accelerates the learning to switch your lights off process dramatically.

More recently the little man has sprung a leak, leaving a soggy passenger footwell. Which lead to a hilarious example of good old British politeness, Oh God, I'm so sorry I forgot to tell you about the puddle I'm so sorry.... (after an hour round trip) Oh, no no! It's me, I always wear inappropriate shoes, my feet are always cold and wet! Really...?

Most recently one of the hydraulic stick things that opens the boot as started popping off if I close the boot to strongly (which I'm prone to doing having driven home from town once with the boot open, not noticing until I was nearly 20 miles in. It really is that loud and that cold in the Micra). I just pop it back on. As I said, not a game changer, but soon they might all add up, and all I'll be left with is one hydraulic stick with no more car to speak of...then I'll miss the little fellow.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

People I wish I was more like...

I've come across lots of people I wish I was more like. If I could squish all their good bits together like plasticine and smoosh them into one person I think that person would be pretty amazing. The best bits might not all work as one though.

The first person I remember wanting to be like was my best friend in Primary 1. I'm not sure why we were best friends, I think it was more circumstance than anything. We weren't particularly alike and I knew it. She was cool, sometimes she was even a little bit naughty. I've never been cool, and I climbed in a window in P2 but I wouldn't say I was naughty. Not naturally anyway, and feigned naughty just isn't the same. I didn't have much (of value to a 5 year old) to offer Stephanie. I could spell her name better than she could. That doesn't barter you much in P1. She was funny (for a 5 year old), she called me Woosy-Lucy a few times (in jest) but even my superior reading age couldn't come up with a rhyme for Stephanie. What can you do with "Stephanie"?

Stephanie didn't like Peanut Butter. I loved Peanut Butter.That had to stop...I sold my peanut butter soul for a best friend. Overnight I became a hater. No more peanut butter sandwiches, no more peanut butter on toast, I goaded people for liking it, I wasn't indifferent, I actively disliked it. I'd found something we could have in common and I ran with it...I didn't eat it for nearly 10 years. I relly don't think she noticed. The power of a 5 year old best friend...Then I started eating it out of the jar. In secret (the kind your mum knows all about, one of those secrets). Maybe this is the deep-seated psychological truth behind my secret eating...

I'm glad I've found myself now, so many years later, I haven't seen my 5 year old best friend for a long, long time. She ditched me in about P5 (it had been on the cards for a while. Since P1 in fact...). My new, assertive, peanut-butter smeared self don't change for noone! Well maybe someone with a severe peanut allergy...but noone else.

Anyway, the peanut butter tells a bigger story...which I think must in some way be connected to what I was going to say...

My friends are varied and not especially alike, the bestest of them are ones I want to be more like. Is that a bad thing? Maybe a little bit creepy-weird...? I like to think I just appreciate all their good bits, and the things I like about them are things I'd like to have too (mostly I'm better as a sidekick, but it's good to have aspirations...). I like these kinds of friends - people who make you a better version of you, bring out your best bits. I've tried to have a negatives cull. I don't have the tolerance I used I'm selfishly looking out for myself - life is so much nicer without  life sucking people. I saw a kids book about Bucket Fillers and Bucket Dippers - clear your life of bucket dippers, everything is so much brighter!

The people who can talk to anyone, who introduce themselves with confidence, who are unendingly, genuinely lovely, who always see the good in other people, who are life and soul of the party, the people people want to know, the funny people, the thoughtful people, the kind people, the people who dance and don't care, the people who can swear theatrically the people who can save a bad situation, the ones who always know what to say, who can shatter awkwardness, the people who never assume the worst, the helpers. The people who when you see them brighten your day, or make you reassess how you do things. Make you wish you hadn't commented, not because they make you feel guilty, but because you wish you'd reacted how they did. The man who, when I was in a charity bookshop and an odd man, edging around strangely, dropped his books and ran out of the shop, "Bit strange!" I said making conversation, "Oh aren't we all! Hope everything's ok" said shop man. I'd distanced myself from the man, peering over at him, whispering, he'd stood next to him and offered his kindness. I want to be more like him.

So I'm going to tell these people I want to be more like. They so often can't see it for themselves...go tell someone how they're super today.

(Currently auditioning as motivational speaker...encourager....vomit inducer...)

(Or maybe just trying to make myself look lovely, without having to get up early enough to fancy myself up a bit...)

New shooooes (and "brief"ly, running pants...)

This here is my new shoes. You really appreciate new shoes when you've worn the others nearly through to the pavement. These feel like I'm bounding along on springy platforms. Makes me a bit scuffy footed when I'm being lazy, but I'll get used to them. Annoyingly they don't have a little space under the insole for my Nike+ sensor thing, so I've had to put it in a silly shoe-wallet...may need to find another solution.

Buying new running things always feels a little bit like training, like it might make me a tiny bit better. The first few sessions of any period of running have always involved just wearing the clothes for me. Maybe going around the house dressed in running kit, maybe driving home in running kit (this one is difficult, sometimes the guilt of seeing people's admiration, hearing their congratulations, feeling their guilt at not exercising, brought on by my wearing running kit, is enough to tip me over the edge and make me run, when maybe I'm not quite ready. I think this is technically a preparation phase...). Now that I am running, I think having new kit (all bargains, Mother, don't fret...) counts as an extra session.

Apart from the shoes there are running pants. I think I've settled on the race day (r)underwear. An unlikely choice that need not be discussed and is, in any case, way overshadowed by an unexpected player, perfectly timed after the chub-rub chat. New leggings (or tights, they call them. Capri tights...). Not just any leggings, but ones that make me feel like I've larded up before going out, like a slippery eel, a greased pig, *almost* like I've lost all feeling in my legs (too tight? no....not like that), they're so slip-slidey there is zero friction as the Russian-power-lifter thighs glide past each other. You might even say like the hot-panted running ladies. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't felt it. They are amazing.

But they don't have a pocket. Any suggestions of where to keep my jelly babies would be appreciated. Note the new running pants are not an appropriate place to keep jelly babies...

Sunday, 10 May 2015

A sweaty beef tomato on a panting hippo body

Running's pretty sexy. So they say. All hot pants and crop-tops, swishy ponytails, single beads of (probably sugar sweet) sweat, fluttering eyelashes, long toned limbs loping along like a rippling race horse.

I thought it must happen from the very first step. The sexiness. Turns out it's a lie. 

Running might lead to sexiness...but the actual running? No. Doesn't work out like that for me. On almost all counts...

Hot pants? This is a no go. This I found out for myself long ago, unfortunately, but my kind auntie offered the knowledge, a very auntie like piece of advice, I think - one of those things you really need to know (if you don't already) but that you'd only really get from a mum/sister/auntie, or maybe a best friend, but less likely. 

"Chaffing" she said. "Chub rub?" I said. "Yes, I know chub rub..."

Unfortunately not just in running related incidents, but I'll stick with them. Chub-rub is why I wear leggings and not shorts. When I was on holiday, going for an early morning run (I knew about chub rub already, but had somehow convinced myself that early morning, warm weather running, along a beach in tropical climes would surely be so much like the sexy advert running I could do it in shorts and a vest. after maybe half a mile I was running like I was riding a tiny imaginery horse. Or had developed some kind of worrying pathological gait. People might have thought I'd suffered a small mid run stroke. It was unpleasant. And sore, really sore, which is difficult on a hot holiday. You have to learn to tie a sarong like a giant baggy nappy, or not be out of the pool long enough for the natural gliding powers of water to wear off. Or wear trousers (this last is probably kindest to society).

I should have known better. I won't be wearing shorts in Edinburgh.

I am starting to worry about all the mentions of "bodyglide" in the half-marathon tips I read...I'll see how I go in the 12 miles, apart from my feet towards the end of the biggies I don't think I've had any "gliding" problems, but maybe 12 will be a few steps too far. Investment in ShockAbsorber "Run" bras has taken care of the boob-blisters problem from a couple of years ago (thank goodness) but the bottom end of the (r)underwear situation remains unsolved. But not urgent. Don't worry. Or think about it anymore...I'm sorry.

"Swishy" ponytails...I've started growing my hair again after chopping it off in a moment of boredom last year. I'm getting married next year (still getting used to that idea...) and I think the more hair the better for whoever is beautfiying me. Worst case scenario we go for "the Cousin it" and ignore the face. I do have nice hair. So anyway, this new long hair. It keeps whipping me in the eye when I run. Which is quite sore and very annoying. Imagine being blinded by your own hair...and when the hair's not whipping me in the eye I'm trying to blink flies out of my eyes, which really puts a dampener on the pace.

Trying to hock a fly out of your eyelashes without poking your own eye out, while your ponytail whips you in the other eye, which is stinging from your own sweat dripping into it, as you run along on your tiny imaginery horse creating a safety gap to shield yourself from that is sexy running. It's like a crystal maze challenge with no fluttery money prize.

And to top it all off the ginger-genes (see earlier mention of nice hair - I'm not anti-ginger, just recognising the downsides...) mean I turn full on pillar box red on exertion, for a long, long time afterwards. Seemingly only in the face department, so I look even more bizarre with my milky white neck/arms/legs and sweaty beef tomato head. 

And apparently they take your photo and put it online for the world to see, tomato head-Quasimodo, blind in one eye, shuffling along in a river of my own sweat, cursing they insect life smooshed into my face. Keep posted for that...

3 weeks to go...

It's 3 weeks till half marathon day, I'll definitely be finished by now, on my own two legs or by sweepy bus. Hopefully the own two legs option. I've had a bit of a running lull this past couple of weeks, whether due to big runs or nights out I'm not sure, but it's been a bit of a chore.

I didn't do my proper runs this week, I went out, but not far or fast or with much effort, so come Friday I went for the "cross train" option on the plan and went for a swim. Swimming was good, I've not been in ages, was a bit busy for my liking , but no sign of the old swim-stalker (I have been seeing him a lot in Tesco recently, maybe he thinks I'm the stalker...). I did some over taking, frantic, and realised I don't know how to pull back in after an overtake, lest I kick someone in the face, so it was just a frantic dash to the end and turn and go.

So come Saturday I was ready to go, I was actually excited to run, and a little bit nervous. It was "just" 5 miles, not far enough to test out my "fuelling" plan thankfully, as someone ate all my jelly babies...I went around Spiggie, and actually ran, not fast by global standards, in the week that saw the anniversary of the 4 minute mile being broken, but fast by Lucy standards. And it felt so much better than usual. I was properly knackered at the end, my leggies were tired and it was hard but I felt like I ran instead of plodding. Hurray! Victory is mine! Not sure I could do another one and a half the same, but I think I've broken the feeling that I need to save myself (we'll see what I'm thinking to that next week as mile 10 comes and goes).

I'd be a bit annoyed if I got to the end of the half marathon and felt like I could've tried a bit harder...I'm all for just finish,make sure you finish. But I think I'm drifting away from thinking slow and steady is the way. Yesterday my pace varied massively - fast downhill, slow up, buying myself time on the way down. Seemed to work for yesterday - we'll see how the rest of the week goes.

Apart from the Run/Plod changeover the run highlights were beautiful Spiggie (as usual) and an otter! A chunky looking otter waddled down a burn as I ran past about 4 miles in. May be the best place to run ever...can't see a treadmill gym view beating that.

I've also gotten quite used to running without music. I always used to have music, to block out the noise of my struggling, and distract me. Which now seems silly, if it was so awful I needed musical distraction why was I doing it? Then I washed my iPod. Accidentally. I've never replaced it, but can't imagine running with music now, I like running for the thinking time, when I'm going far enough that there's a gap in the middle where I'm warmed up and managing, and not quite thinking about wanting to finish, then that's a little bit of time where I don't think I should be doing anything else, a little pocket of emptiness that I can fill with any thinks I want.

I think this is the main thing keeping me from running with other people. In some ways I like the idea - it might make me run a bit faster, it might make me run a bit further, but it does mean I wouldn't be on my own, I don't think I'd be a chatty runner, I don't particularly want to be gee'd along if I'm going slow. I'm quite looking forward to just running wherever I want when I'm done with this training, though I might need to have some kind of plan to make sure I do go...guess I'll find out in a few weeks if my motivation has come all the way back from Edinburgh with me.

An easyish week this week, then 12 miles on Sunday...I'm going to wallow in positive thoughts till then. Once I've written about the joys of chubrub and boob-blisters.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Newsflash - Wine Affects Athletic Performance

( case there was doubt)
Another lesson learned. Like the "you should drink water when you run for more than a wee while" lesson it's something I already know. But there is a difference between knowing and knowing, the kind of knowing that comes from experience. Like, I know it's not a good idea to eat 18 bits of toast and a packet of biscuits, I know there isn't physically room for that without some discomfort, but knowing isn't enough to stop me trying. Then you know. 

I know it's not a good idea to go south on the ferry in a storm when they've warned people not to travel. Of course I know that. But when you're clinging to the floor, your calming breaths and motivational pep-talk being interrupted by a squawky, old-enough-to-know-better Liverpudlian child puking at your feet, and you feel a little bit of sick soak through your sock (no parental intervention) and you wonder if murder on a boat in high seas is a forgiveable crime of passion. Then you know.

So today I did my first run after the 10 miler. I think the 10 miles affected me more than I thought, legs were a bit tired. But I think what affected me more than the 10 miles, was the 10 wines (<made up for number alliteration...I hope it wasn't 10...). I've not been out much at all this last couple of months, but when I have I have felt it for days afterwards. I like to think this is because I've morphed into an athlete. Part of me thinks it's because I'm getting old. Either way it is discouraging drink, which can only be a good thing I suppose.

I think the routine of a training plan is just making me notice. Something I did quite easily, like a sprightly spring lamb last week, sees me huffing and puffing like a condemned ewe this week. But I'll be better tomorrow. Tomorrow is "Tempo training" which sounds very fancy. I like to think I'm getting a little better at it - what was at first a change of speed imperceptible to the human eye is now a change of pace detectable by an actual measuring device, so tomorrow is the first step in my new get-faster master plan. Wish me luck...

Things I know this week - take it from me, you don't have to find out for yourself - it's a good idea to drink water when you're running, it might even be a good idea to eat something (thanks for the tips running ladies who've come with advice), and wine does not make me a better runner. I might go so far as to say it makes me considerably worse. And really grumpy. Like even more grumpy than usual. But I still know wine isn't necessarily bad. It means well.

These might seem obvious...I'm ok with that, I'm still working on the big things, not at the tiny margins stage quite yet.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Run, run, run as fast as you can

Even if as fast as you can is slow...

I'm 8 weeks in to my 12 week half marathon training. Which, scarily, means 4 weeks from now it'll be all over. Hopefully it won't have ended in the sweepy bus. If I out-run the sweepy bus I'll be happy, I'd like to go quicker, but arriving unsweeped will do me for a first attempt.

Training is going not too bad, I've had a couple of low motivation weeks this past 2 weeks, but I think I've caught up and am back on the wagon after a 10 miler on Saturday. This was my first ever double digit run, but unfortunately did involve quite a lot of run-walk-run-walk after the 7 mile mark. Due, I think to a mixture of unfitness and stupidity. I didn't have anything to drink with me. That was pretty stupid...lesson learned for my next long run. It did give me something to think about though, and the opportunity for some internal amateur dramatics. An internal monologue about your own slow death from thirst under a baking(ha!) Shetland sun, experiencing discomfort only before felt by people doing the Marathon Des Sables, a 6 day ultra-marathon, fairly keeps you entertained for a few miles. And I tell you I can really ham it up. On the inside.

After reading "Born to Run" (courtesy of the sister) I have been humming and hawing about buying new trainers. I had thought to get ones with extra arch support when I started, but then I concluded I was in fact just too heavy for my own feet, and rather than structural support I should shift some timber and run until my feet manned up a bit. Which has worked. My trainers are still pretty ancient and worn though, so I've ordered some new ones. I fully expect to spring about like Mo Farah when they arrive.

So far training has included a one-off fight with some horrid tirricks, who swooped and bullied me along a road, resulting in a half forward, half sideways shuffle, with panted negotiation, that I really was leaving, I meant them no harm, what are they doing nesting on a public road, and leave me alone type whimpering. I emerged unscathed, but after seeing them pecking a polar bear on the snout on Frozen Planet I think a good degree of alarm is reasonable. There has also been an assortment of weather. Hailstones, snow, rain, wind. Though it has been largely fine, I've been quite lucky. I hope the wind training means my real time equivalent pace is a minute or two a mile faster than my Shetland wind pace... but I'm not sure that is any more than wishful thinking.

I seem to have mastered the slow plod, so this few weeks is going to be dedicated to running a little faster (I'm sure the new shoes will see to that...) and maybe a bit of strength training. I think when all this is by with I'll keep running, but maybe only up to an hour, anything more seems a bit overly, and maybe dull, though I like the idea of being able to run to places...running home again, not so much. I might start doing my own "Rave Runs" like in Runners World, that are really just photos of cool places to run, of which there are many up here. Once I'm done training I'll start running interesting places and taking pictures of where I've been (great excuse for a rest...).

Over and out - I'll be back with more soon, maybe something other so as not to be a run bore...

I've had lots of very kind and generous donations already, all of which make me try a little bit harder in training...if you have a spare pound and haven't visited yet, this is where to go...