Sunday, 30 September 2007

addiction, addiction

I really am starting to find that if I go for 48 hours without exercise, my mood dips horribly. I got myself down to the gym this evening - for "last knockings" before the place closed, so slightly less time than usual - but still managed around 30 minutes on a combination of bike, rower and Nautilus, followed by about 35 minutes of weights.

As my legs still hurt from Friday's efforts (3 miles at a pace of not much over 10 minutes per mile - that's amazing for me) it was good to feel the benefit of a workout that didn't strain the same muscles. And, much to my relief (and my husband's, I'm sure) it improved my mood no end...

Progress reminder

Left to right:

  • 4th March 2006: as Carlotta in a concert version of Sondheim's Follies
  • 2nd October 2006: appeared on this blog loads of times - almost exactly a year ago. Taken at my parents' 50th wedding anniversary weekend.
  • 29th September 2007: yesterday, after a Red Hat coffee morning
Forgive me, but it's sometimes a good idea to remind myself where I'm not going back to.

Oh, vanity, vanity...

Friday, 28 September 2007

It hurts when I stop

A book I had some years ago about health & fitness, headlined by Ruby Wax and Dr Alan Maryon-Davis, made the great comment about exercise "Think how great it feels when you stop", to which Ruby replied "It does! I must stop more often..."

I'm finding the opposite. Felt great when running, but crocked now.

A run with Kim this evening down the road through Easton village, exactly 1.5 miles each way, in the dusk, the rain and the wind... not as safe a run as we thought, as only the first half of it has pavements. The rest is verges and grass banks. All that hopping on and off different levels to avoid the cars - despite our luminous yellow tops - was tough going.

Each half of the run - 1.5 miles - timed out at 15:15 or thereabouts, with a 4 minute break at the halfway mark (so this gave me a much improved mile pace of 10:10). For about 75% of the run, I actually felt pretty comfortable, too. However, by the last bit, the omnipresent pull on the left lower thigh/hamstring was overtaken by a greater pain in the upper right front thigh/hip. By the time I'd driven home, it really was feeling very painful, and still is now - despite some frozen-pea treatment.

I am very proud of the fact that I've done 3 x 1.75, 1 x 1.95, and 1 x 3 miles within the last 7 days - just over 10 miles. Given that my average weekly mileage has been around the 5 mile mark for months, this is quite an achievement. But if I want to get to a comfortable 4 miles by the end of October, 5 end November and 6 end December, that pace might have to slacken off just a little; or at least, make sure there's a bit less hopping about to jar the muscles that were, just eight months ago, used for nothing more than driving to the supermarket and back...

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Darn fool hobby

It has been "windy and raining all getout" pretty much all day. (It took me a while to pin down where that phrase came from, but eventually the mental filing cabinet turned up that it's a quote from The Tin Drum by G√ľnter Grass.) When it was pouring around 5pm, I sent Kim a text: "Can we go to the gym instead of for a run? It's HORRIBLE out there!" she came back and insisted we run anyway. "I don't want you being put off if New Year's Day is wet and cold!" (This was the line she used on my first ever run, by the way. Actually, I'm glad she's a bully.)

In the event, it wasn't actually raining all that much by the time we went out around 6:30 pm, and wasn't yet too dark. However, having found on yesterday's run that the track under the trees to Morton Hall is just a bit too pot-holed for comfort (the last thing we want is a sprained ankle right now), we decided to do our usual run but stopping at the cottage halfway down the track before the trees, back to the top of the drive, then repeat the drive down and back before going home. This turned out to be just slightly short of two miles, instead of our usual 1.75; we did it in 20:15 of running time (with two lots of two-minute breaks).

We skipped puddles, splashed, got muddy, jumped from road to grass and back again... and it was great fun!

Better still, even given the daft conditions, the time and distance gives a pace of 10:23, which was very encouraging; I felt able to put on a bit more speed in a few bits (although the breaks, which I don't usually take on my own, probably helped!).

Seeing the ridiculous sight we made as we went to go out of the door, my husband took before-and-after photos. In neither case was this glamour (well, I think Kim still looks pretty cool, but I look like a demented frog with a tomato on top**). Photo #2 - see muddy trousers. My laundry quantities have increased no end since I took up running!

** or possibly a traffic light with the middle bit missing

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

And while I'm at it

... I've just submitted my online application for the Wymondham New Year's Day 10K. Yup, 10K. Never run further than 5K yet. Have 97 days to get to the point where I can run a continuous 6.2 miles without expiring.

Hey - we can do this.

Another new target...

...the ten minute mile!

Any real runners out there will probably fall about laughing. But having sorted out my genuine distances and times, using the Fetch Everyone website, I realise that plodding takes on a new meaning: none of my runs, training or races, has (until tonight) gone under an 11 minute mile.

Actually, when I review my progress, improvement is better than I realise. When I did my Race for Life in May, the pace clocked at 12:32. During June & July, my comments about "a circuit of the lake timed between 4:30 and 4:45" and "down to the Hall and back, less than 10 minutes each way" reflect a pace of around 11:30. And my performance in the August Wroxham 5K was a pace of 11:06.

Tonight I thought, let's go for it. I timed my run to Morton Hall and back accurately: the 1.75 mile run (no, not two miles as I used to think!) took 19:03. That paces at 10:53. But oh, boy - was that ever an effort.

So that's the new target. A ten minute mile (which is a speed regarded as "run easy" by the experienced folks) which doesn't leave me a beetroot-faced wreck...

Monday, 24 September 2007

New term, new targets

OK, let's finally admit it. I put on a net two pounds during the holiday season.

Frankly, that in itself is a triumph: I weighed in at variously 145 to 147 lb during the run up to our holiday (from early July until mid August). On our return from France, I had a horrible moment when the scales said 151 lb - but that was on the evening of our return, and my usual weigh-in time is first thing in the morning. Next day, it was 149; since we got back from London and back to work, it's been 147 to 148. This is fine by me. If I hadn't done some damage-limitation in the second week in France, I reckon it would have been a lot more serious.

So, where now? Well, in the first place, I stop ignoring the inaccuracy of the "this is now" note on the right of this blog, and change photo and weight to reflect today. Secondly, I review my targets - this was prompted by a space for such things on the Fetch Everyone site.

Starting weight, 14th January 2007: 167 lb
Weight today, 24th September 2007: 147 lb
Target weight, 17th November 2007: 139 lb

Why 139? Because it will be exactly two stone lost, and it's also "goodbye, one-forties".

Why 17th November? Because that's the date of the twentieth anniversary concert of Chimes Musical Theatre, which I've been running since 1987, and I so loved having a choice of concert dresses for our concert in July - I want it to be even better this time.

And because it's almost exactly eight weeks, and only eight pounds, which is absolutely achievable. That's why.

A brilliant new discovery

Courtesy of my friends at Runner's World, I've come across the superb Fetch Everyone. Not just another blogging-sharing-forum gossip site, it also gives you the ability to log your training very easily - and to map the runs you do, very precisely for distance.

Actually, that last bit has been something of a two-edged sword. I knew that my regular here-to-Morton-Hall run was "just under a mile", but I'm a bit fed up to realise that it's actually nearer 0.875 of a mile - i.e. it's a 1.75 mile round trip, not "nearly two miles". And the Lenwade circuit - round the fishing lakes (which I haven't done for a while) - isn't "about half a mile round the lake", but 0.43 miles. Multiply that by the 4, 5 or 6 circuits I was doing, and it's a bit less impressive than I thought! Oh, well.

But the folks on FE have been really welcoming, with some immediate friendly emails and comments on my achievement so far. Does me worlds of good. Thanks, guys.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Sociably running easy

I spent most of the day oscillating madly between washing machine and computer, trying to catch up with the backlog. A glorious evening therefore made it easy to go out about 5pm for a run-easy on my usual 2 mile route.

I must admit, it was 2 x 1 mile, and took rather a lot longer than usual. On my walk down from our door to the end of the lane, I found neighbours Margaret and Sally picking blackberries, and stopped to chat and scrump a few; and I met Ann when I reached her gate, and stopped to chat with her. (She's been flat out with sciatica, poor lady - given how superbly active she usually is - so I was delighted to see her taking her aged terrier, Archie, for his evening constitutional. "I walk a lot faster when I don't have him on the end of the lead...")

Be that as it may: a gentle two miles in lovely sunshine on my favourite quiet roads, with friends, dogs and blackberries - what more could I ask for?

Friday, 21 September 2007

I'm back

Well, that was a long break from blogging. For anybody who's been loyal / daft enough to keep up with my reports, apologies for the absence... it was made up of (a) two weeks' holiday in a gite in the Loire valley, (b) a week seeing a variety of friends around the London area, and (c) immediately vanishing to do three days' decluttering work with a new client in Suffolk.

So here I am, nearly a month after my Wroxham 5K efforts, catching up. I've added a few interim entries on their correct dates, where there's any relevant news on running / weight loss activity in that time, so if you're really interested you can start reading those here and then work through each Newer Post.

Oh, and thanks to the guys on the Runner's World forum for caring about what I'm up to and sending me an email to chase me up after a month's absence!

PS: Kim has been on holiday, too - she went to Spain just before we got back from France. We're looking forward to meeting up for a run on Monday. I've really missed my friend and mentor.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

A me-day

... with my darling husband's encouragement!

Into Norwich, principally to see the (excellent) production of Private Lives at the Maddermarket in the evening. I also managed to book, much to my relief, to have my hair done - as I'm trying to grow it a bit, it needs attention so I don't finish up too wild-woman-of-Borneo, and five weeks felt like a long time!

We then got sidetracked by the ever-tempting East (not to mention their new-season-mailing-list-discount), and a new dress in Wallis. Which I changed into for our visit to the theatre (I'd managed to spill lunch on the top I started off wearing!), and still found hard to believe it was me in a size 12. OK, Wallis are generous with their sizes - don't spoil it for me! Here's a quick webcam shot of the haircut and the dress - although it was very much an end-of-day tired look by this time...

Monday, 17 September 2007

Running in Suffolk

Almost as soon as I got back, I was off again - for three days' decluttering work in Suffolk. I so much enjoyed working with Charlotte, staying in her lovely house and helping her with paperwork. Her village is peaceful and beautiful; the view from my room included a huge field which, in the evenings, seemed to have a huge population of hares - I think they were far too large to be rabbits.

On the Monday evening, I took myself out for a run while Charlotte prepared dinner. It was a bit darker than I'd have liked (I must get myself a luminous vest now that winter's approaching) but there was absolutely no traffic around, and it's a lovely place.

I ran for about 11 minutes - except for the hill on the way out of the village, which was the steepest I'd met in any of my runs, and I had to wave a white flag and walk up the second half of it! I then turned and went back, so reckon I managed about 2 miles in all.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

A week of friends

On Tuesday, it was down to London. A wonderful week took in Melanie and her gorgeous twins, Zoe & Paul, and Joanna - all from our musical group, Chimes Musical Theatre; lunch with my boss, Pat (from Epsom Council days) with her daughter Clara and their assorted cats; lunch with our American friend, John, who took us to the Atheneum (!!); and finally to my parents' for the night before returning to Norfolk on the Saturday.

No running, but an awful lot of walking; which, together with at least some attempt at sensible eating (I probably looked like a fish by the end of the week, I'd eaten so much of it) meant that by our return home, I weighed in at a more reassuring 147 lb. OK - we can handle this.

And I got my act together sufficiently to run on the day we got home, too! I was greeted by the cows down Ann's driveway to Morton Hall, who felt like old friends... It was wonderful to see our London friends, who I miss very much, but I so don't miss London as a place.

Monday, 10 September 2007

A couple of days at home

Our holiday wasn't yet over. We now had two days to catch up on laundry, post, emails and the rest before spending a few days visiting assorted friends around London!

On the Sunday, I visited the gym for the first time in a month. Spent an hour on the weights machines, and felt a lot better for it. The pile of ironing generated over the weekend accounted for another workout, too...

Sunday, 9 September 2007

The rest of the week

Having tried my new route on the Saturday, I was pretty pleased with myself to have managed the same run on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as well. Including the just-over-a-mile jaunt the previous week, that gave me a total of 11 miles' running during the holiday. Hardly marathon standards, but I was very glad I'd done it.

We travelled back to the Chunnel and across into Kent on the Friday, staying at the same beautiful B&B in Headcorn as we'd used on the way out. On Saturday we called in on our friend Beryl in her beautiful Essex home, and continued back to Norfolk - in time to join in with the 50th wedding anniversary party of Dot & Dick, friends in our village.

And on Sunday morning, I took a deep breath and stepped on the scales. When we left England, I'd weighed in at 145 lb; now I was 149 lb. If I hadn't run 11 miles and cut out some food, I hate to think how much weight I'd have put on; it's all too easy. The oft-repeated phrase "but I'm on holiday" is no help at all!

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Damage limitation

By the weekend, I figured that enough was enough. Apart from Wednesday's little one-mile excursion, I hadn't run for ten days; my eating habits had gone completely off the rails; and when the summer skirts that I'd been so proud of started to feel just the tiniest big snug - well, that was the last straw.

So I figured it was time I did something about it. First, decision made (and mostly managed to stick to it) to cut out at least most of the butter, and leave the Nutella on the shelf, and stop picking at the cheese; and when the mid-afternoon sightseeing refreshments were offered, kept to a drink and avoided the giant sundaes.

Next, the running. Our hosts, Alison & Jon, who owned our gite, were great fun and a lovely couple; during one of our conversations earlier in the week, Ali had mentioned a run round the village and described the route. I gave it a go. (These photos were actually taken on another run later in the week.)

Out of our gite and to the end of the road. Past a field of sunflowers (sadly past their best). Follow along the road and across the little stream.

Up the hill (the what?! - we don't have those in Norfolk...) but I just about kept going and ran up the whole thing. As you can see, it wasn't really all that steep, but it felt like a mountain at that point.

Turn left along the cornfield. (I do like looking tall in a shadow!)

Through a "green tunnel" and past an orchard - those apples looked seriously tempting for scrumping. Left again down the long road back into the village, past the house with the collie (who, like all the dogs I met - and any humans - thought the idea of running was, if you'll forgive the pun, totally barking mad). Over the stream again, past the chateau, and down the final stretch back to the village.

Run nearly as far as the church you can see in the distance, and turn left into our street.

Later in the week we clocked the distance in the car, and it turned out to be a respectable 2.4 miles. A bit more than my regular training run, enough to turn me tomato-faced, not quite as far as the 5K; peaceful, beautiful and highly satisfying.