Friday, May 29, 2009

Getting over that initial hurdle

The thing that I enjoy about running is the temporary solitude it offers. I think that it is becoming my excuse to get out of the house away from the kids, the household chores, and the computer to enjoy a bit of "me time". A few months ago when I actually started running again I found it difficult and demoralizing as I couldn't run the 2.3 mile inner loop block from our house. It was too easy to find excuses to stop running and walk it out. I would convince myself that it was all exercise and that I would be able to complete it next time. My runs at that point were few and far between. I would head to the YMCA for a pump or combat class but tire so easily that on occasion I would leave the class before the warm down.

I knew I had to do something. Training for a marathon is not that hard – it just requires dedication and a commitment. Time and willpower. And of course a well thought out plan! I was picking up our summer pool passes when I stumbled across a flyer for some local community training courses. There were two 12 week courses that had just started; the first program was focused on a training schedule from 0 to 5 miles for beginners and the other was focused on getting from 5 to 10 miles. I was excited, also because the beginner course was at a reasonable time mid-morning and babysitting services were offered. I remember turning up on the assigned morning for what would have been Week 2 of the course, paid my fees and waited only to find out that the course had been cancelled.

The coach thankfully called me up the next day. The beginner course had been rescheduled for a Thursday night – I was disappointed as there was no way I could reasonably commit to that with the kids and my husband's work schedule. Bummed I chatted to the coach about what other options were available for me. It was obvious to me that I couldn't do this alone and I was extremely keen to get started with "something". He was sweet and after listening to my experiences and goals he asked if I wanted to come on out and try a 6 mile run with the intermediate group he was training. If it felt OK then I could sign up for the 5 to 10 mile program.

From not really being able to run non-stop 2.3 miles to getting out there and running 6 miles. From not being able to get out of bed before 6.45am to getting up on a Saturday morning at 5.30am. It was hard but I managed it. I surprised myself and completed the 6 miles in 1 hr 20 mins. It was great getting out there with other runners who were supportive. It was also motivating to be running as part of a group – knowing that there were people in front and behind pushes you over that psychological defeatism hurdle. Also the coach was great – he would ride his bike between all the runners giving support and technical pointers. I am so glad I found the group and was able to join them. We only run together on Saturday mornings – but preparing for that run that keeps me focused and motivated the entire week.

This week I ran the 2.3 mile loop from my house averaging an 8 minute mile. I have been able to run the longer distances averaging an 11 minute mile. I can feel the improvement as I get out on the road and start running. It is so enjoyable. I enjoy the time to think about everything and anything. To reflect. To Plan. To run!


Training Schedule

Sunday 31 May - OFF (may have to run the 8 miles from day before due to kids sporting commitments)

Monday 1 June - 3 miles

Tuesday 2 June - 4 miles

Wednesday 3 June - Cross Training 40 - 60 mins: will try a Pump class this week and a swim!

Thursday 4 June - 4 miles

Friday 5 June - OFF

Saturday 6 June - 7 miles

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Training Schedule

Sunday 24 May - OFF

Monday 25 May - 3 miles

Tuesday 26 May - 4 miles

Wednesday 27 May - Cross Training (45-60 mins)

Thursday 28 May - 3 miles

Friday 29 May - OFF

Saturday 30 May - 8.2 miles

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Marathon Training - my schedule for this week

Sunday 17 May – OFF

Monday 18 May – 3 miles medium speed (75-80% of race pace; faster than a jog)

Tuesday 19 May – 4 miles tempo (starts easy, builds up to as steady speed, then ends easy)

Wednesday 20 May – Cross Training 45-60 mins

Thursday 21 May – 3 miles medium speed (75-80% of race pace; faster than a jog)

Friday 22 May – OFF

Saturday 23 May – 7 miles (aim to finish!!)

Friday, May 15, 2009

So why New York?

So why New York? Why the New York Marathon and not the Houston, Boston, Great Ocean Road, Alice Springs or even the Maratona de Santa Catarina? Why then out of the 1,133 marathons being run this year around the world choose New York, USA?

New York holds some sort of mystique for me. Our lives have been intertwined ever since 2001 and it calls to out to me as would a long forgotten lover. It beckons to me. Flirts endlessly. Teases me with its excitement and wonder and whispers endless promises. For my part, I have played the role of the unrequited love and ignored all of her advances. But still she calls…

By June 2001 I had reached a professional high and decided that nothing could match the year, the experiences, and the fun. So like all level headed professionals I did what needed to be done and quit my job of eleven years! Rash, possibly. Impetuous, maybe. Exhilarating, most definitely! Initially I was head hunted as a security and risk management professional and my CV was used in proposals for contracts all over the world. 9/11 changed all of that for me. After that people tightened their security but were also very careful with whom they let in their inner sanctum. An a non-American I was ruled out of a lot of those sort-after jobs, one being on the security management team for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. But where doors close, others open and within a few weeks of 9/11 I found myself working in Singapore advising companies on how they could best operate in an ever changing environment. The US war in Afghanistan had begun and the region was not sure how to react among all the fear campaigns from all sides.

Still on a high from the year so far I decided to take it one step further and pack up my house, relationship and life in Australia and move to France. Why? To learn French of course! I decided to create my own future on my own terms and create a reality to fit my desired lifestyle, which at that point in time was to work for the United Nations. After six months I found myself landing in Kabul with a contract working for a French aid agency. It was initially a nightmare. My bags were lost and in my hungover state of leaving Paris I didn’t think to bring any money. I was my own nightmare. But on my first day in Kabul I met my husband. A friend of mine who had been working in Afghanistan came around to visit and say a quick “g’day” and he brought one of his American colleagues.

It wasn’t love at first sight, but definitely a bit of intrigue. His story is intertwined with New York and although not mine entirely to tell I will touch on the main points. He was in New York during 9/11. Had rushed to the aid of those trying to escape the myriad of debris. He had worked in the Middle East previously and after 9/11 spent time trying to appease some of the hatred as the two cultures clashed. In the end he made his way to Afghanistan to make peace and to ensure that what he knew in his heart about the Afghans was still true and that ultimately they as a group were not responsible for the attack against his country-men.

Every year now when we return to the US for Christmas or for Easter my husband promises that we will go to New York. For New Years, to visit friends, to hang out. Whatever the reasons is unimportant, what is is that I have never been. So New York continues to call me. She waves to me wearing a translucent smoky black veil covering up just enough for me not to see. She taints me with all of the lost opportunities of good times and laughs at the misfortunes that I suffered because of her. She also smiles knowingly because my family and current life are intertwined forever with her and she knows that when the time is right I will come.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

So it begins…

I woke up one morning not too long ago and suddenly realized that twenty years had passed since I had finished school. Twenty years! I suppose I had been too busy to notice the time flitting away.

Looking in the mirror though, I could see that twenty years staring right back at me. Wrinkles. Pigmentation – or it that age spots? Thunder thighs aka the 'saddle bags' amply covered with surface veins and dimples associated with cellulite. Maybe I was having a bad morning? I am certain that I didn't look this bad when I went to bed. I suppose time does creep up on you – as do those late night chocolate snacks, wine with cheese and the mojito's.

Now, I am not an overweight person – just an out of shape person. This is something that can be fixed. Right? I have two young children. The last time I did any exercise was before they were born – in fact a few years before they were born. I don't think I have exercised with any determination or effort since 1993 when training for the Peter Evans Memorial Marathon held in Perth, Western Australia. Before that - probably school? OK, so I came second in that marathon (which really isn't a full marathon, possibly half and done in military combat attire) and I normally placed in all of the school track events from 400m to 3,000m. And, yes I was the cross-country champion five years in a row. So what happened?

Life! Is it my fault that I drank a lot of beer when I was in the military? Can I be blamed for all the cheese and wine that I consumed when living in Paris? Or the hummus and bread when in the Middle East? I went out dancing a lot in Singapore, but of course it takes ten to fifteen stiff drinks to get me on the dance floor! I love my Sunday morning brunches, Friday night dinner and drinks, and who could blame me for opening a box of Boursin (au poivre) for a snack whilst watching a show on the idiot box? Exercise? Nope, too exhausted after a day of juggling work, the house, the kids, the husband and whatever else happened to pass my way that day.

So here I am. Twenty years on from my glory days and thinking that with a bit of hard work and sweat I just might be able to get some of it back. Inching back from that edge of middle age I choose to swap my gardening gloves, grey hair and aching bones for a pair of running shoes with the aim of completing the 2010 New York Marathon in a time of 3 hours 30 minutes or better.

So it begins – the run for New York!