Monday, 31 January 2011

Out of Commission...

So sometimes life throws you a curveball and there isn't a thing that you can do about it. And along with only the mildest annoyance, I can only shrug my shoulders and go "Ah well...."

At what is probably the most critical stage of training for a first marathon (and tell me if i'm wrong, but I was just heading into the 2-3 weeks of highest mileage and longest Long Runs prior to taper), I've fallen sick. And not just blow your nose, feel sorry for yourself sick. It's the worst flu of my adult life, 3 days of unrelenting fever and continuing phlegmy cough sick. And while I think i'm on the mend, I have a feeling it's one of those that I want to send off with caution and respect - I don't think I'm going to running for a couple of days yet, at least.

7 days off running in the middle of an already short marathon training plan (I decided about LA on a whim, so only had about 12-13 weeks)... my longest Long Run so far was about 24-25km. I'm ambivalent - I know I could still go out there and finish it, but I don't know that I will be in form to do my best at my first marathon. I'd like to go out there and do a good solid run... yes, it is about fun but I also want it to be a fight and a victory.

And so, I calm myself down... one step at a time, one day at a time... I just need to focus on getting better... then I start running again... and then I can reassess whether I run LA.

I think I could still do it... what do you think? Any advice?

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Happy Day Race Report...

Can I just say again (with a mix of disbelief and amazement!) - What a long way I've come...
2 years ago, I refused to get out of bed and gave my race bib to someone else for a 10km race.
In November of 2009, I ran my first 10km race and just 3 months ago in October, I ran my 10km PB.
This morning, I joined the Clearwater Bay Chase 10km (photo above taken by a random spectator at around the 9km mark), which is my 'neighbourhood' race taking place along some gorgeous coastal scenery, but with some killer up and downhill stretches. I wasn't aiming for a particular time but thought it would be a lovely variation during a 'easy' week and I would then tag on another 5km or so to round out my week's mileage. I ended up finishing a pretty tough course in 53:37 (setting yet another PB by 20 seconds, which I did not realise until I stopped my Garmin! What a lovely surprise...) and then ran that extra 5km home, along the same hilly route!

Limits and possibility are relative, and are set by the horizons of your mind and heart. I am so glad to have learnt this precious lesson... blessed that this has been shown to me. Today, I also ran without expectation, I simply wanted to do a good solid run and enjoy myself... that may well be the best way to race, don't you agree?

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Thought for today...

"It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power."

I have no idea who wrote this, but wow...

Fear does not change anything or protect us in the way we imagine it does. I am letting go of my fears, of my desire for security... I'm scared of running 42.2km, I'm scared of being alone, I'm scared of wasting my life and precious time... these do not help me, so I'm going to release them because "...there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful..."

Instead, "... for in movement there is life, and in change there is power". Bring on the challenges and all the daring new things I haven't tried before! Bring on the not needing to know, bring on the release of control... bring on discovery of life and joy today!

Monday, 17 January 2011

How? Or more importantly, Why?

Ran for a shade over 3 hours and 9 minutes yesterday *BIG smiles*
about 24km, so just under a 8 min per km pace - slower than I would like, but it's hilly where I run so I should be too hard on myself.

Quads aren't entirely happy today, but all in all, I'm feelin' good!

So I had a bit of time to think while on the road...

I was out at dinner on Saturday night when a friend asked repeatedly, "How do you do it? Where do you find the discipline, the motivation??". And then, "Why would you do it? I just don't understand..."
I'd like to think that the Why is easier to understand than the How, but on occasion, I realise that not everyone feels that pull.

I have always been someone who sets goals, who needs to feel that I have grown or improved with each passing year. I have the intrinsic yearning for the sort of capability, dedication, focus, physical mastery that you see in professional sports people, challenged athletes, marathoners... anyone who is pushing the envelope on what they should 'normally' be able to do.

My assumption is that the desire for self-improvement, the continuous extension of limits, the challenge, that yearning is common to us all... and that is the simple answer to the "Why?".
When every week, I am able to run further than I've ever done before (granted... one day, I will hit a wall with this one, won't I?)... when after every really hard session, I know I have gained strength mentally and emotionally... that is more than enough to keep me going.

Running and training is like Life, condensed. It asks of me as much as it can get, but it also gives bountifully in return. The gap to be bridged between my physical capabilities and Roger Federer's or Paula Radcliffe's is a forever chasm, but that does not mean that I cannot explore the limits of my talent and celebrate the power of my being. The discovery of how far I've come and the possibility of how much further I can go... that is one of the most amazing life lessons I've had in years.

And like Life, running teaches me to be at peace while striving - my body is what I have, is what I have been given even if it may not be what I want. Every time I push it to be 'more', I also ask myself to accept what it is in that moment.

Running is about heart... so it's more about Why than How. If I started by asking how, then I would have been swallowed up in doubt, overcome by a tide of "Cannot... no way... how could I?". Why, instead, reminds me daily that I want to be better, stronger, faster, more patient and wise... why, reminds me of the who I might one day become...

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

A Quickie...

Just to lighten up that gloomy cloud that I cast with my last post... lucky for me, it was all just PMS (should've known!), but boy, was it tough going physically for a good few days! Yesterday, I cut my 6km tempo run into two 3km tempo intervals, just so I could make it through.

I'm close to the end of my first 'chunk' of Marathon training - by the week's finish, I would have done 3 weeks of incremental work that will see me finishing my longest run yet at around 25km. I'm looking forward to the coming week - I sense that my body and mind have strengthened and grown through this phase, so next week will be an opportunity to feel 'my new being'.

PMS or not, I am treading respectfully on virgin ground as I move further along this training program. I am glad and thankful that I am in marathon training... in awe, almost, of the fact - who would have ever known??
And I am mindful too, that there will only ever be 1 first marathon for me. This journey is nothing short of a gift.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

A really hard day...

Today, 42.2km is like a Himalayan summit entirely shrouded in cloud. I simply can not see it, nor do I imagine that I have it in me to get up there.
Today, I barely made it to base camp... and it was a battle.

At points, I wanted to stop and hit my legs in frustration. I was tired, sore, fed up of the damn hills that make up a good part of my long run. My legs were cursing at me, I was mentally throwing a few uncensored swear words back.

In moments of lucidity, I still had it in me to chant, "Go away, go away, my limiting thoughts... I love you still, I do, my poor body-in-training". Pitying my body helped with the blame/anger game going on.

I cannot say that I feel "better" for having completed my planned Long Run today. Oddly and disappointingly, I feel neither proud nor relieved nor satisfied. I edged ahead with the longest run I have ever done - somewhere between 21-23km (Garmin-Running Ahead), completed in 2:42+ (I don't know exactly how long I ran because I stopped my watch a few times to walk and forgot to restart it 2 times, so I 'lost' some time and mileage there).

Perhaps tomorrow, I shall be glad.... for now, I'm just looking forward to a good night's sleep. Who'd have know it could be so hard?

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Anyone there?

I hesitated today before writing here. Let's face it... I had a grand total of 5 pages view yesterday, out of which 2 might have been my own.

Does it matter... what I write? If I write? If I believe? If I care?
Why spend time on this?

I have this picture of myself shouting words into a dark abyss... except it's funny rather than purely tragic :)

Then I realise that it doesn't really matter. And yet it does, except that I do not need to know if it does. Everything little thing that we do (or do not do) sends tiny ripples out into the world, perceptible to some but unfelt by many others. Our calling is to heed our inner urgings to do what is true to our own goodness, and then to let the world do its own thing with what is sent out there. It is not a popularity contest or a competition to win over the blogosphere. And the world is so much bigger, more mysterious and more wonderful than I can imagine in my little head.

Our lives are only small if we believe them to be, writes Teri at (Long) Road to Paradise. There is this paradoxical balance - having faith in how much beauty you bring to the world, and yet not being wrapped up in just how important you are... trusting the world to take our flawed existence and actions, amplifying it beyond our wildest imagination, but yet not thinking for the tiniest moment that you have the power to change the world.... knowing that every day you make a difference, but without ever truly understanding how or why.

Let's revel in those mysteries as I leave it there with you tonight...

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

The Wisdom of George Sheehan...

The music of a marathon is a powerful strain, one of those tunes of glory. It asks us to forsake pleasures, to discipline the body, to find courage, to renew faith and to become one's own person, utterly and completely.

Needing a bit of help?

Anyone looking for that extra bit of motivation as the New year really kicks in and the passion behind those resolutions start to die down ever so little... this is a fantastic piece
on how to ensure that a plan is put in place to support the achievement of those goals! It's about running, but the tips are easily modified to apply to almost any type of aim.

It's oh-so-simple and yet Ohhhh-so-hard!!!!!!!!!