Category Archives: Races

Tough Mudder, GA, 2012

Holy Moly I write this to you from a world of pain. Tough Mudder is a whole new race experience: very tough, but so much fun. Here is my experience:

It was a cold, cold Georgia day. It reached about 40 degrees, but the biting winds took it down to a ‘feels like’ 24. Yes, Europeans, that’s below freezing in your language. After the classic pre-race breakfast of a McDonalds bacon, egg and cheese biscuit (what?? all the best athletes eat this I tell you) I donned my Tough Mudder T-shirt (thanks Gabe!), joined my teammates Andrew, Andrea, Gabe and Amanda and registered. Obligatory war paint later…. we were off.

You climbed over a wall into a pen for your start wave, and the MC did a great job at getting us fired up… I was bemused / surprised / bewildered at having to salute the American flag before an obstacle course which threatened hypothermia (were we tying America to voluntary stupidity?? Who knows…) but enjoyed listening to the anthem. This nationalistic pride is a while new thing to me (I’m from a land where we say “I’m British… sorry…”). Then boom – we were off. Here is my hazy and imperfect memory of the race:

(1) First obstacle jumping over muddy-water filled trenches. Done.

(2)Second obstacle: crawling through deep, deep mud under barbed wire. Done. So far, so good. Then a 5K – easy peas… wait, what was this? The mud setting on my body like a plaster cast? Weighing me down and feeling like it was made of ice? Hmmm… OK, ok, I could do this.

(3)Third obstacle: scrabbling over walls. No problem! I didn’t even need help… but could help others…

jumped down and ran to

(4) a dumster filled with water. And ice. So much ice. I decided I didn’t care and leaped in next to Gabe. I did care at that point:

The shock was immense. Literally, breathing in was difficult. Then there was a wall up to the water level, so you had to fully submerge and swim under. OK… OK… it hurt. It really hurt. Amanda and Andrea were smart to go around this one. But we sign up for pain, right? So, I carried on, enjoying the challenge.

(5): Turd’s nest….  OKey doke, close by, a wall to climb over, and a rope thingie. Good good – all members of my team rocking it.

(6) Running through flaming hay. Not scary, not difficult and to be honest: darn nice to be able to warm up.

(7) Next up: bails of hay, each about 4 ft tall to scramble over, maybe 8 ontop of one and another. No safety net. Scary, yes, achieveable – yes. Up went all 5 members of  ‘tough mudder bitches’ and down again. Sweet.

(8) Then mud like I have never seen mud. I lost my shoe… Deep, deep mud and pipes to crawl through. This caused some tears from me – I am not good with narrow spaces and feeling ‘trapped’ and especially not narrow spaces with no traction…

but hey – seeing Amanda and Andrea and Andrew push through was encouragement enough. Andrew gave me a great tip: go on your side, as you don’t be able to push any other way except through momentum.

(9) Ah, next, the greased money bars. The famous & popular (spectators) or infamous and feared (runners). I mean, they would be bad enough… and painful, but of course, tough mudder had to put them over iced water. Gabe & I didn’t stand a chance, although Gabe is my all time Tough Mudder hero for doing it with a torn rotator cuff. Andrew made it! Rockstar!

Another colder, more mud covered 5 K. This was OK, although I was envious of Amanda and Andrea being DRY.

(10) Crawling through long and very dark trenches in the ground. I was terrified…. Gabe talked me through it 🙂

(11) Then running, this time over time logs piled up…

(12) to a tarpaulin on the ground, with electric wires hanging a few inches above. Bad enough, except that they also constructed a sprinkler. Water + electricity + a human = not good. I was scared, but figured I’d be able to slither through without getting touched. Wrong. As the first one hit me and felt like a sharp, sharp stab followed by a buzz I flattened totally. I remember being OK at this stage, but I wasn’t because when one spectator on the sidelines said “you’re doing it wrong, use you legs!” I stopped dead still, turned my head, glared him straight in the eye and said slowly, quietly and disgustingly: “You come and f&*!ing do it”. Then I carried on my miserable way.

Oh, look, another 5K. This one involved wading through a waist high bog of thick, foul-smelling stench (this time Gabe, Andrea and Amanda sensibly skipped it… Andrew and I carried on regardless).  Then running through a cold rocky brook for about a mile. The wind was up, I was soaked, there was no indication of how long this section would be, and when I saw ‘Mile 7’ I think I wanted to cry that I was only just over 1/2 way through. I didn’t. I carried on

I lost a lot of the obstacles here, the next I really remember was

(17) Really, really high walls, perhaps 8/9 feet (?) The guys on the course were awesome – the let me climb all over them (ouch) and boosted me over. I did both because I got so much help! BUt felt bad that I was totally unable to help anyone else.

(18) Holding wood and carrying it some way. Tiring, required mental grind but not too bad. Some guy yelled at me “That log is bigger than you!” which cheered me up immensely. It was here that the cold, cold, cold really set in. As I said, to al intents and purposes, it was 24 degrees. Not ideal. My hands were seizing up… my wet hair freezing on my bonce… but on to

(19) jumping over some tyres (with the wood) – again, quite nice and easy, except that you were so tired it was hard to keep your footing…

(20) Monkey bars number 2: swinging hoops. Me: Fail. More plunging into icy water (in the -24 weather: who cares? Me. I cared). Gabe, Andrea, Amanda: Go around. Andrew: Success! I was eternally grateful to Gabe for helping me out… a friendly face really boosted me

(21) Walk the plank. Honestly? Probably the second hardest obstacle. Climb 15ft into the air, wet and freezing, and jump into a freezing lake. I got up there no problem and stood next to Gabe. “Are we going to do it? Are we?” he said… I shrugged, “I guess so….OK”. Gabe did a count down and I didn’t want to let him down so jumped. I could not have done it without him – it seemed so high. This was the team support of which everyone spoke.

The cold was shocking. Shocking. Many people’s lungs spasmed a bit and they couldn’t breathe… this is where a few were carried off in heat blankets…. I was OK! Gabe was OK! Andrew appeared not to have noticed it was difficult and was battling on. We joined the girls who waited for us on the side and ran (I think I limped actually) onto

(22) Everest. A huge, huge plastic wall, at 90 degrees to the ground after a slope, covered in mud. You had to run up it, jump up, and be grabbed at the top by others who hauled you over. This was Andrew and I’s feeling on it:

We tried. After 2 very, very close attempts and the third failed attempt and the third set of cuts and blood trickling down my face, I walked around. Andrew: over like a champion! Waddling, limping onto:

(23) Going on your back across a wire, hanging over a lake. I actually quite enjoyed this – it hurt. It hurt like hell, but I made it well. I think Gabe and Andrew did too. Then onto:

(23) The most painful. Long narrow beams, above water (I think it may actually NOT have been iced). The girls waited on the other side as Andrew, Gabe and I slowly inched, inched our way. At end of it, I waited for the boys and broke down. My hands were frozen stiff, I was shivering uncontrollably, and couldn’t see the end.

But the end was in sight 🙂 1.5 more miles running, admittedly with limbs so sore from the obstacles, and with soaking, freezing clothes clinging to me – but still, 1.5 miles didn’t seem so bad.

 

(24) Walking through a bog (whatever, so over this) and then

(25) Running wet, through electric shocks. I am ashamed to say that I nearly wimped out. I stared them down for so long… Andrew ran right though, Gabe stayed to encourage me, until I started crying and told him to jut go. He did it! So proud of him, and I couldn’t bare to have tried every single obstacle except the last one.

So, I ran.

The shocks were light at first, but towards the end, strong enough that my legs gave way and I splatted into the mud.

Who cares?? Done!! Onto my free recovery beer!

I hate beer…. Wes’ fries were much more welcome.

 

 

I was so glad I did it. So proud I tried every obstacle… all the freezing water, all the electric shocks. In fact, I only ‘failed’ at Everest, because I was bleeding and battered. So impressed I ran the full 1/2 marathon, even when cold, and caked in mud. So glad my other Tough Mudder, bitches, helped me through it 🙂

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Battle at Big Creek, Tough Mudder week 7 and reflections on some life choices

A section of Big Creek Trails

The earliest start yet took me to a new state for a trail run; at 3.30 am, the boy packed up some warm jumpers, two fired up puppies, a stash of snacks, and a grumpy ‘just started my TOTM and have cramps’ wife, and started the 3 hour drive to Roswell, Georgia for Xterra’s “Battle at Big Creek”. 8k (me) or 16k ( brave fools) as you wished. I arrived, glad the boy had allowed vast amounts of extra time (which I did not feel glad for at 3.30 am) as we had forgotten the change over from Central to Eastern time. But we made it fine, I got my neat little registration pack, some time to chill and warm away the Raynaud’s in the car, and time to be vaguely disconcerted that I had been registered as a 31 year old.

It was not in a state park this time, rather a “greenway” in a urban area. The trail was OK from a scenic point of view. It was fine, and it was great to be out among the changing trees, but there were no nice views and no sense of being it in endless nature (which is something I do in general love about trail running). It might not have been helped that our route missed the water. Whereas I am already planning the 2 hour drive to take my friends to hike the stunning Monte Sano in Huntsville, I am not especially planning a return trip here, although if passing, I would happily stop for a hike.

So, why did Xterra’s pick it? Well, post race, I read that they do it because of the challenge. It is one of Xterra’s hardest terrains, based on technical difficulties, steepness and condition of the trail. And Xterra’s are hardly known for mollycoddling their participants.

I knew at the start that 2 weeks wasn’t really enough to train for an 8k from 5k standard, but I am traveling much of the rest of this month so this was my only hope of getting a monthly race in. In the blistering cold (my tongue actually went numb) I enthusiastically started somewhere near the middle and slowly picked people off as I made my way to the front. It was uphill, but that was OK, as after my lesson from Monte Sano I had been doing some hill training and practicing on the undulating ground near my house. Undulating. Undulating. Not nearly 3 miles of pure climb that was so steep the trail had to wind its way up it, rather than take a direct path. Hmmmm. About 2 miles into it I was pretty miserable and thinking “I am either going to have to hate hills or train for them more”. I suspect it will be a mixture of both.

I got my head down, and at around 3 miles, started to get in the zone more and enjoy it. I picked people off one by one and felt pretty good about it. I ignored the aid stations and just pushed on, and could see around a few bends, so see that I was doing pretty well among the women – there were only maybe 5 or 6 in front of me, of which the 3 absolute spring chickens told me I was 2 nd or 3 rd in my age group. Time for a final push as I hit the last mile marker – and push I did. I sprinted for that finish line, passing one woman and making myself 2nd, which was a wonderful feeling. I gave it all, and at the last 400 meters I was overjoyed to see the end in sight. Just one more hairpin, which I negotiated with vigor… Until this happened

Ow

Yes it did hurt, although the cold saved me some of the immediate pain. I watched 2nd and 3rd place jump ahead of me

She nixed me to 3rd... fair and square

and even though I sprang up, my intended sprint to the finish line became a running hobble. Ah well, the disappointment of just losing out on a medal as 4th in my age group smarted more than the leg, to be honest.

Definitely a hobbling run

But as ever I learned a lot, and that is an important part of the process. More important than medals, right? Ahem. I learned

*Again, check the course, check the course, check the course. I actually couldn’t have gotten any more info for this one, but it did remind me of the value of knowing the course. I trained how to be able to sprint / run up brief-ish hills and recover on the way down, and the long climb just destroyed me.
*Find it more about the race. This was one of Xterras 3 national qualifier races, where runners who want to run in the Nationals have to place in all 3. So, the were more elite-recreational runners than the just recreational runners I encountered last time
*Better to eat before the race and not need it, than to need it half way around. I ate a light breakfast (200 kcals) at 5 and then ran at 8.30 because it was “just an 8k” and when I train I often do these fasted. But, I don’t train as hard as I race and the hills required extra input, so I could have done with more food
*Along those lines, eat carbs the night before. I tend to avoid all non vegetable carbs in the evening (bar the occasional glass of wine). This works fine for general training, especially as I do a lot of it in the evening as I get often stuck into my work with my morning coffee, whether I intended to or not. Somehow an oatmeal carb up in the morning isn’t quite as efficacious as evening pasta.
*Wear less! Because it was cold I wore a jumper to run. It was great for about 2 minutes, then I spent the next 5 minutes annoyed I was hot and the next 30 secs slowing down and stumbling because I was taking it off. Then the rest of the race struggling to keep it tied around my waist. Recreational Jumper = bad decision. Considering a long-sleeved sorts top for December runs.
* My iPod lies! It cheerfully yelled “1/2 way point”… And then about 6 mins later I came across the actual halfway point which was somewhat deflating. More annoyingly, it yelled ‘1 mile to go’ causing an all out of burst of speed that could only last a mile, when there were in fact about 1.8 miles left. Really deflating was hearing “Congratulations! Workout complete” and not even being able to see the finish line. As someone who does not love running, it is a mind game for me.

*Don’t fall. This may be the best tip of all.

So Tough Mudder training, week 7.

This may have been my best training week yet. I completed the full DAMY complement of workouts, felt great for all of them, and did some extra. I didn’t feel at all worn out, although as I am now in week 8, I am feeling some tiredness and really just doing the set schedule, not throwing anything else in. But, very happy with this week. It went a lil’ something like:

Friday – DAMY weights A, 35 mins steady state – DONE

Saturday – Hill sprints, DAMY weights B – DONE

Sunday – 8K run (+ hills) – DONE

Monday: DAMY C (weights); Interval B – DONE

Tues: Hill sprints; DAMY D (legs) – Changed; no hill sprints due to lack of sleep and an early meeting

Weds:  Functional training (plyos) – DONE

Thurs: Kickboxing (maybe; have a 5 mile (8K) race on Saturday so may be fixing to rest). – DONE. So glad I went, Gabe’s kickboxing is the best 😀

Week 8 plan

Friday – rest for race after a hard week

Saturday – 8 k + DAMY B

Sunday – 8K run (+ hills)

Monday: DAMY C (weights); Interval B

Tues: 5k interval run + DAMY A in the am (arms); DAMY D (legs)

Weds:  Yoga in the am,  Functional training (plyos) pm

Thurs: Kickboxing

And some life choices this week

I am sure you have all heard the industry “pick two of three” paradigm. Is is where you can pick two of these for any given project:

Cheap
Fast
Good

You just can’t have more than 3. So, if something is done cheaply and quickly, it isn’t gong to be done well. Conversely, if it is done well and quickly, then is going to cost a lot. I once turned to David and said “I have had an epiphany. Women cannot be smart, cute and healthy”. It takes some qualifying as I picked catchy words. By smart I meant very successful at work. By cute, I meant well turned out with good clothes with styled hair and neat make up. By healthy I meant regularly active and eating healthy, homemade food. So, if I am going to work long hours and go to the gym a lot, I am going to look a mess. By the time I have packed up all my lunch and filled my bag with that, I don’t have time to co ordinate a decent outfit and shoes or have space in my bag for make-up. I’ll be barefaced and chances are: in my trainers all day. David thought about it and said to me “I think what you are saying, Lekki, is that you can’t do everything in life”. Spot on.

Courtesy of PhDcomics.com

This has recently come back to me as work went crazy for the grant. The grant took up a lot of time, and pushed back my other work, so the crazy-busy schedule will continue while I make up for it. And the lack of evening eats into my weekends as I have to do the cleaning. Tidying, cooking etc has to be done then. Then I have my sport which I love, and also eats my time. I loved my race this weekend, and loved the uninterrupted 6 hours it gave me with my husband. Thing is, I also wanted to go to a friend’s house and watch the game. I knew if I did that, I would not get all my house stuff done, and I would not get as much work done. It hurt, but I declined. I realized I was making a choice. The house is at a stage where it could not be left without environmental protection coming and trying to save us from ourselves, but technically work could be. However – there would not be many serious repercussions if I delayed work a little. I don’t have any immediate deadlines, and my work for today is largely a job app, when I have a promising K award and 2 exciting interviews at places I would love to work on the horizon.

So why do the app? Because I need a back-up, sure. But also because it is for NIH which would be an enormously prestigious position. And one that really allowed to conduct my Science for the next 5 years in a very stimulating academic environment. So, my career is going very well at the moment, yes, and I have better than average career prospects. But I will fight to make my prospects elite. I really care about my latest project and I want every shot to be able to complete it, and to be able to complete it in the best environment possible. I don’t know where that is yet, and I suspect I will only find out through applications and visits and tang to people on visits.

So I guess I am says that I felt I made a decision on Saturday. To prioritize my career over my social life, even though my social life is very woeful at the moment and my career is great. I am surprised how easy this decision came and how well it say with me. We all make choices and we have to live with our choices. I think it helped me to sleep better and enjoy my choices knowing that I was making them, and why.

IMAGE credits

http://alpharetta.ga.us/index.php?p=136

http://vadlo.com/cartoons.php?id=241

My first trail race!

Me with a medal. A day I (and my high school sports teachers) thought we would never see

Yesterday was my first trail race. It was in Huntsville, at Monte Sano state park. One of the reasons I decided to sign up to trail races was to get me to travel the local area and this was a wonderful indictment of that.  Monte Sano state park was breathtakingly beautiful. All my disappointment at the Samford campus was instantly repaid and more with joy at Monte Sano. It helped that the leaves were changing – fall colours in Alabama are incredible (as in other states, ‘tiz true). We were fairly elevated,  and indeed, elevated ourselves somewhat more on the course (ouch) but this lead to this incredible view.

View as I finished the run. Now there is motivation!

I *highly* recommend a visit there, and cannot wait to go back and hike.

So… the race. Well, despite proclaiming my intention to train for races, and not just throw them in my general running plan, I kinda failed. I managed only 1 trail run beforehand, which I took way too lightly and did not simulate race conditions for. I also did not check out the course: hence I was utterly unprepared for many very steep hills, and even a fair few steps.  But, OK, lesson learned.

I also learned to train ‘beyond’ your race. I had been running linger distances at ½ marathon pace, and for faster training, stuck to 5K. I think I would prefer going into a race used to running that pace for a slightly longer distance – I don’t know? Any runners got any thoughts on this?

That was not the only preparation mess up… we got up at the heinously early 4.30 am to get to Huntsville by 7.30 (allowing for gas stops, bathroom breaks and getting lost…). I prepared my usual oatmeal breakfast, but wolfed it at 5.30 am, leaving my hungry and chowing down on a larabar pre-race. I also, out of boredom, drank double my usual morning coffee, and instead of my fairly weak homemade stuff had the strong shop bought stuff, in double quantities. I also ‘didn’t feel’ like rehydrating. Let’s just say: unexpected fiber + a lot of caffeine + hard exercise does not make for a happy tummy on the trails. ‘Nuff said and lesson learned.

My only other mess-up was starting at the back, because I still think of myself as slow. There was a huge bottleneck, and I had to walk for about 3  minutes, before slowly picking off other runners to make my way to the front. I wish I had started near the front: running fast at the beginning and slowing down actually does not tire me out quickly on such a short distance, so next time up front I go.

Me cheerfully standing at the back. Fool.

That all being said, I came 3rd out of all the women, and very close to coming second:

End of the race - I was so close!

Why didn’t I come second? I felt it would be ‘mean’ and cheating’ to sprint past someone (I am actually a super quick sprinter, I just can‘t keep the speed up long) right at the finish line. The girl who tried (and failed – phew) to do that to me taught me otherwise. Placed, and should have done a little better.

Walter was so pleased to see me when I got back!

I loved the overall experience. I loved getting up and out and doing something with my Saturday.  I loved putting my all into a run. I loved seeing somewhere new and I loved placing. I also loved my free swag, which the race organizers where very generous with (T-shirts, drinking glasses, bananas etc). And my winning swag (super nice North face hat, plastic and aluminum water bottles, a medal and all sorts of samples of stuff).

Next? I considered an 8K in Atlanta, but it is 2 weeks away and (1) I can’t really train for it and (2) Alabama play LSU and my husband won’t come meaning much driving (3 hours) by myself and driving back sore and tired. So, I may well skip that, and just shoot for the 10K at lookout mountain in December.  Any takers?

 Tough Mudder training

Finally, my tough mudder training this week. It is going better.  I completed nearly all the DAMY workouts… and kept my long run in. That being said, I didn’t complete them all, and I think it was too much for weeks 5+ of DAMY to up the workouts, but slightly decrease the food. I also was utterly failing to recover – I would be sore for 4/5 days, rather ½ which I am used to. I think I need to support my recovery more. I am going to try to add glutamine supplementation, but I also noticed that when picking from the food lists, I am naturally picking a lot of the lower calorie options (what? I love apples!), so next week, I am going to try to choose higher calorie, permitted foods. Kinda scary, as I don’t want weightloss to stall too much, but if it means I can do more training, at better intensities, I think it will even out.

Tough Mudder training Week 5:

Thursday:  DAMY weights A, (DONE!)

Friday – REST (yuck) – (DONE)

Saturday – Steady state 6 mile jog – (DONE! 6.3 miles, if you’re asking )

Sunday – Steady state cross train (30 min trail run; 2 hour hike); weights DAMY B – CHANGED – no run, the hike was too early. But I did hike for 4 hours…

Monday: 30 min interval run; Weights DAMY D (legs) – CHANGED: Did my DAMY B weights. Then did Interval training, DAMY workout B. This is TOUGH. But worth it.

Tues: REST – CHANGED – DAMY D (legs). Hurt for days

Weds: Steady state (4 miles); DAMY C. – DONE on the hated track, no less… done barefoot too – I am seeing if I can learn to run barefoot so that I can get minimalist shoes.

Tough Mudder training Week 6 plan:

Friday – DAMY weights A, 35 mins steady state

Saturday – 5K, DAMY weights B

Sunday – Steady state 7 mile jog

Monday: DAMY C (weights); Interval B

Tues: REST

Weds:  DAMY D (legs); interval A

Thurs: Kickboxing (this is a good proxy for DAMY’s 6th ‘functional’ workout – lots of core stuff).

So, I am getting better at completing all the workouts. I am hoping some 200 extra calories a day, mostly in the form of whole grains, will spur me on to complete this without deviating!

Just after I decided that I wasn't going to puke...

Step out to stop Diabetes!

Our team: Pink Lightning!

Today, I raced for the American Diabetes Association. It was just a 5K, and I signed up last minute to help an 11-year old friend. I was in two minds after doing it: half the time I thought it might be too tough (I was on the tail-end of a break for knee-resting purposes, and hadn’t run for some 7 days or so), and half the time I thought it would be too easy (everyone kept telling me an 11-year old could not go much faster than a basic trot and I’d be bored). Half the time I worried… half the time I wondered how I was going to fit an additional cardio session in before a wedding reception that night.

Samford's campus

I was wrong on both fronts. It was perfect, and it turned out to be one of the best learning experiences I had! It was held at Samford, a University campus I have not seen before. I have to admit, that aspect of the race was a disappointment. I was told that Samford was really beautiful, and I had to see it… well, I thought it was OK. I mean, it was clean and neat but kinda small, and I had thought I would see something like the colleges of my Alma Mata  Cambridge…

One part of Cambridge - where I hung out. Not my favourite part actually. For real beauty, see Corpus Christi

or the buildings of Oxford (which are nestled in a beautiful town imho).

Oxford

But it looked more just like one of the nice stately homes in England… Williamsbug-ish… quite modern and a little uninteresting. But very clean and nice, it is true. And nicer than UAB (and the hideous Warwick), I’ll give it that. Don’t flame me, I don’t dislike it, I just thought it was not worth paying a visit to, if you were hoping to see something memorable.

So, what did I learn from this race?

Ah Young One, so much to learn you have (not youngest one, you seem on the ball)

(1) You can definitely train for different types of race. Just because I can run a 10K pretty well, doesn’t mean I can run a 5K. Example: I am used to running 8 miles +. The first couple of miles are often warm-up, and then I hit my rhythm. There obviously isn’t time for that in 3.1 miles….

(2) Check the bleedin’ course. I had no idea that it would be all uphill for the first half!

(3) Sometimes, forget what you “know”. I turned to Sasha in the first couple of minutes and said “we shouldn’t run at this pace, there is no way we’ll keep it up the whole way around”. She looked at me as if to say “Lekki, you get such funny ideas, why on Earth not?”. And indeed, I really could keep that pace up.

(4) I definitely don’t know how to push myself. I was tired at the end, but walking about. Sasha needed to sit down before she could even celebrate her win. Respect!

Recovery

It was, all in all, an awesome experience. And not just because I got my 5K time down from a 29.5 min best to 26.5 🙂

3 new races… and my first and truest love.

Geniunely. the shoes recommended for me, were bright pink. What could I say?

Ah… I knew you would never do my wrong. Every so often I would stray from you, be tempted by others… romanced by alternatives. These flirtations were fleeting as I always returned to your warm embrace and regretted my transgressions. I am, of course, talking to my shoes.

One of my all-time favourite pairs of shoes

I just bought a pair of proper running shoes and all I want to know is: why didn’t anyone tell me that they can freakin’ change your life? OK, so maybe a few hundreds thousands of you did, but I didn’t listen. Today I stopped running in Wally-world trainers (oh the shame), that were apparently a full size too small (Fleet Feet, who were wonderful and gave top notch service and advice, even begged me not to wear them out of the shop) and started running in proper-sized support trainers. What happened? Well, before it was hard for me to run a full 5K without walking. I could *just* about do it. But I would have to talk myself through it, keep motivating myself, and then walk-jog the rest of the distance. Not anymore. 10K, no walking, no batting an eye lid. Even felt I could continue (I REALLY wanted to, but didn’t as my tendons are a bit ropey). THANK YOU NIKE.

So, here is an update on my upcoming races. It all happened at once.

My friend invited me to run a 5K in December with her, for arthritis research. And as you have to dress up all Christmassy (let’s not forget that I spend the 1st – 24th December one year as the human advent calendar adding a bauble each day) I agreed.

Then I signed up for my first trail run. I want to try trail running, and am aware that unless I force myself to get off my butt and go to a trail, I won’t do it. Which requires significant motivation to do so… which requires a race. So, on October 22nd I am running the XTERRA MONTE SANO STATE PARK TRAIL RUN in Huntsville. Quite nervous for my first trail run! Also, it is at 8 am – 2 hours’ drive away. I’ll either get up early, or camp overnight at the park and road test the brankd spanking new tent and thermarest I have had since Christmas (!). I was nervous about getting there in time, but you gotta do what you gotta do, and certainly, you gotta stop making excuses.

Finally my friend Sasha emailed me fairly last minute to do a 5K road race next weekend. You can’t say no to (1) a dear friend, (2) a dear 10 year old friend, who I love like family and (3) a cause like Diabetes Research when your day job is… diabetes research. So, I am off to do that!

This is going to require some shifts in my training schedule, which is a good thing. My training goal for my next training week (starts on Thursday) is probably to work on being more flexible (mentally, although physically is not a bad thing 😉 ), and to take a rest from long distance running, subbing in swimming and cycling (if I can get hold of a bike after mine was stolen). This should help me step out of the injury zone (my old IT band syndrome is flaring up), should make me stronger mentally (I find it so hard to relax and no stick 100% with what I perceive to be the toughest training plan), give my body a chance to generally recover from a tough step-up in training, and finally, allow me to focus some on my strength training (although no squats!) which has taken a serious back seat, and hence, a serious dip in form.

Finally… a note on fundraising. I do not intend to fund-raise for many of my events… hardly any in fact. I will pay all fees myself and only raise money for causes that seriously close to my heart. That being said, 2 have come up:

Next week I am running for the American Diabetes Association (ADA). I am member of the ADA, attended their annual conference, and the last 2 years my research has been focused almost entirely on insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. In December, I am running for Arthritis Research, which I am happy to fund-raise with my friend for as it is one of her main research focuses. Some great friends of mine at UAB head up a research group based on understanding arthritis. If you would like to donate to either (and PLEASE don’t feel obliged) you may click these links:

Diabetes Research (ADA)

Arthritis Research

I doubt there will be many more. Thank you for any help 🙂

AND… I would LOVE company on the trail run… it is only 5K, and you could join me in the morning, or camp out with me (UAB rent cheap tents and equipment people…). Email me if you’d like… or drop me a comment. The more, the merrier 🙂

Oh look, a picture of a pretty shoe I own. How did that get there?

One step closer to a Tough Mudder.

Eeeek, I was just sent a blog about the Tough Mudder race. Sure, there was talk about skipping obstacles and some happy-go-lucky

“I would encourage anyone to try this out. … I loved the spirit present in the race. … I loved this race…and you might too!”

talk at the end, but there was also talk of water with ice in, tiny tunnels, smoke filled obstacles and such. I am more skeered than ever. Let’s just be glad I met, in fact exceeded (woo!!) all my goals this week. I am assuming that my traning schedule is on point with my fitness and nutrition:

Complete 2 any of 3:

1. Improve 5K time below 30 mins (29.5 mins)

2. Walk for less of the 6 mile jog (HUGE improvement; almost no walking)

3. Complete more of the 8 mile slow and steady / HIIT mix-up. (did it all. Oh yes baby, I sprinted back to my house. And collapsed. But I sprinted none the less).

and to work in some weights for my legs. (DONE!) Ha!

My training went like this:

Thursday:  45 min kickboxing

Friday – am: Timed 5K. Goal: Speed Pm: 20 minutes weights (DAMY workout)

Saturday – light biking

Sunday – 6 mile run. Goal: Endurance

Monday: am: 4 miles HIIT. Pm: Weights (20 min DAMY workout)

Tues: More rest.

Weds: am: 4 mile jog; 4 mile HIIT Pm: Weights (DAMY leg work out)

Goal next week:

Maintain all my times, and turn that 6 miler into a 7 miler (or more?). I (and Gabe, Andrea and Andrew) CAN AND WILL DO THIS!!!!

One Tough Mudder (in the making)

Not so much of this anymore I guess.

I am used to the uhhh… “enthusiasm?” of Americans. “Come for a hike,” they yell, and off we go on a WALK. “I know where you live,” they sing “Up that mountain”. If they mean the HILL then yes, yes I do. So, when I signed up for Tough Mudder, billed as ‘probably the toughest race on the planet’, I wasn’t too worried. Sure there was talk of walls to climb over… 12 mile distances and something about electric shocks, but I wasn’t really that worried.

Until I started to talk to people around me. Or more to the point, when they found out I was doing Tough Mudder they wanted to talk to me (after eyeing me nervously). Many people expressed their concern, eventually even the guy in GNC seemed concerned: “I know someone who did that… once”. He said. “Have you seen the people who do that? They’re like… military types… ” *eyes me dubiously* “it’s a lot of work… many people don’t finish it “. Which, whaddya know, is actually true. 25% in fact. Which has sort of started to give me the willies.

A picture from Tough Mudder. Well. That makes me feel good then.

So, I panicked for a few days… then I took a new tactic: I will use this as a challenge! And adventure! I’ll train for it! I’ll train properly and probably win the whole thing, and give up Science and become a runner and I’ll always be able to eat whatever I like, whenever I like AND stay super thin because I’ll be burning so up so much, and I’ll develop those lovely lean muscles that runners have and I’ll probably end up on a magazine and Taylor Lautner will see me, fall instantly in love and marry me, and we’d both have those big white shiny perfect smiles that Americans have and 3 children: 2 boys and girl and a huge house and white picket fence and I don’t think anything would ever trouble or worry me again.

Taylor Lautner. Or as I like to call him: "Mr Frazier-Wood". See, now I don't know if it is morally better to include or exclude my current, sorry, I mean actual, husbands name when I plot to marry a 17 year old.

Seriously… I have approached my new fitness plan with that much enthusiasm.

At least it will give me something new to blog about 🙂

So, I think I need to be able to comfortably run a half marathon – that is my main goal, and I will work hard on my upper body strength when I have adjusted to pushing the cardio. My current plan is the Runners’ World half marathon for beginners plan, and the DAMY workout:

Training Week 1:

Thursday:  45 min kickboxing

Friday – am: Timed 5K. Goal: Speed [34 minutes… oh dear]. Pm: 20 minutes weights (DAMY workout)

Saturday – 6 mile run. Goal: Endurance, just to complete it

Sunday -Blissfull, blissful rest.

Monday: am: 4 miles HIIT. Pm: Weights (20 min DAMY workout)

Tues: More rest.

Weds: am: 4 mile jog; 4 mile HIIT (I completed only 3 miles of the HIIT; briskly walked the last mile). Pm: Weights (DAMY leg work out; not completed this week as I was exhausted)

Phew. So, I am trying to be very careful not to overtrain, especially as I am eating for fat loss at the moment. My goals for next week are to repeat this weeks’ workout (as it was quite a challenge) and complete 2 any of three:

1. Improve 5K time below 30 mins

2. Walk for less of the 6 mile jog (hopefully see an improvement in time)

3. Complete more of the 8 mile slow and steady / HIIT mix-up.

and to work in some weights for my legs.