Archive for February 2007

So many cheeses to choose from

Monday, 26th February 2007. Filed in Random foliage1 Comment »

I ate a lot of yummy, smelly cheese over the weekend while we visited friends in France. My brain is still recovering from this wonderful, dairy induced lethargy. So while it thinks of something fantastic to write about, here’s another snap I took at this year’s orchid festival, “Intensely Tropical” at Kew Gardens.

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Friday’s run

Distance: 9.0 miles
Time: 1:25:24
Pace: 9:29 min/mile

J’aime les orchidées

Thursday, 22nd February 2007. Filed in Photography, Random foliage1 Comment »

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Running from the rain

Wednesday, 21st February 2007. Filed in 'Nana in training, Running1 Comment »

Mostly white puffy clouds dotted the bright blue sky as I set out on my run today. The sun was shining, drawing out the verdant shades of the fields and hedges. Lush green grass poked out from the dark mud in the ditches. Dodging puddles from the morning’s showers, I made my loop past the Minster farm, Abbey and train station before heading through the village and out to Monkton. Deep green shoots announcing the close arrival of spring lined the road to Monkton, while polite drivers gave room to me.

I took the weather as a sign it may be getting to the point where deciding what to wear on my runs is going to be a bit of trial and error. Easily removed and carried layers are going to be the thing for me, as we near the transition between cold and warmer seasons. I debated removing my gloves and carrying them the rest of the way. I wondered if I would be able to leave my warm hat at home the next time.

And then, as if hearing my inner voice and scolding me for being too anxious for warmer times when it’s only February afterall, the sky began to spit at me. And so in my last mile and a half, I raced the rain home. I mostly won. The brief thundershower’s bark was worse than its bite. One flash of lightning, one long growl of thunder and it fizzled out. At least where I was. I looked across the fields and a huge wall of gray stretched from the sky to land, most likely drenching Crunchy husband as he walked back from getting Euros in Sandwich on his lunch break. Bummer. But, that’s what keeps the trees watered, the flowers blooming, the rivers flowing. So, you can’t complain. Well, I can. And I do. I am pretty good at it. But, deep inside I still appreciate it.

Today’s run

Distance: 5.2 miles
Pace: 9:12 min/mile

Running therapy

Monday, 19th February 2007. Filed in 'Nana in training, Running1 Comment »

I woke up screaming last night. Which is a sign I need to lay off Waking the Dead, or I am a bit anxious. I am going with the latter. I think anyone who knows me would agree. (Plus, I am too hooked on the drama in Waking the Dead to cut it out. I want to see if the Peter Boyd character does in fact get in touch with his inner grief and heal his soul, as has been suggested would do him some good. Except, I hope he doesn’t because the character makes me laugh. I’d hate, hate, hate! him in real life. But, for tv, I love it. And I don’t say that very often.)

I didn’t run over the weekend. I think it might be good for me to get this out there since I’m fairly sure this contributed to last night’s anxiety. The explanations I have to offer are that I am allowing a blood blister to heal. And we got back from rocking out in Brighton too late yesterday for me to finish the 9 miles in daylight. Notice, I call those explanations, not excuses. I am not sure what the difference is between the two, but in this case, explanation sounds more positive. And right now I am really trying to take my life in that direction. I think that’s a good plan. To focus on relieving the anxiety through positive thoughts and actions.

My first goal, in the running department, is not to be nervous. I thought I was playing it very cool, that my inner storm was wholly disguised by a suave, happy-go-lucky exterior. Until Crunchy husband casually remarked, “yeah, I’ve noticed you get really nervous before the weekend runs”. What?! It shows? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. He knows me pretty well. And my mood’s not usually that hard to read. Okay, not ever that hard to read.

I’ve thought about this a bit and the conclusion that I come to is that I get nervous before I start a long run because I am scared that this run will be the one that hurts me. I’ve jumped in, made a commitment, to myself and others, that I believe in. I want to do my best to honor it, in body and spirit. Yet, I worry something beyond my control will take it away. I fear I will not be able to do what I’ve set out to do. It’s not even damage to my body that causes me angst as much as the implications that an injury could have on my training schedule and completing the half marathon. There might be something a bit unhealthy about that. I should probably try to work on this.

I do, however, feel good for my shorter run today.

Today’s run

Distance: 5.2 miles
Time: 48:19
Pace: 9:17 min/mile

Je voudrais un pain au chocolat, s’il vous plaît.

Thursday, 15th February 2007. Filed in Random foliage1 Comment »

I don’t speak French. When I was in elementary school a friend and I tried to teach ourselves some basics. I can count to ten. And say words like ‘le chat’ and ‘bonjour’. And tell my name to strangers on the street. The important stuff. But, that is pretty much it for my knowledge of the French language. So, what exactly made me think I could place an order on Amazon France, I am not sure. But, so far so good. There’s a chance the folks in Amazon-land may think the shipping address is also the billing address of our credit card. Oops. However, our order has yet to be kicked back, so I am thinking positively. (Though, I will forgo feeling too proud of myself until next weekend when my music and my Get Fuzzy Scrum Bums are safely clutched in my hot little hands.)

Here’s to livraison gratuite! And friends in France!

Today’s run

Distance: 4.0 miles
Time: 39:13
Pace: 9:48 min/mile


Iced tea!

Monday, 12th February 2007. Filed in 'Nana in training, Running1 Comment »

There comes a time in every wannabe runner’s life when she must make a choice. A choice between what’s easy and what’s right. A choice between facile escape and the deep plunge. A choice between ‘hey, I’m really not THAT hardcore’ and ‘if it’s good enough for Paula, it’s good enough for me’. A choice between steamy and very, very cold.

As I got out of the car yesterday, I realized the day had come for hard choices. I cooled down and stretched after the 8 mile run, but my muscles were telling me they were less than gratified with the afternoon’s activities. So, I knew what I had to do. Like it or not, it was time to bite the bullet. Gathering up all the mental strength left inside me after a run dogged by hills and a headwind that threatened to wrest the breath from my sails, I walked through the front door, straight up the stairs, and drew myself a booty numbing bath. It was as close to glacial as I could get it, as we have no ice in the house. No ‘hot’ tap allowed.

Don’t I look happy?

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At first thought, the ice bath sounds brutal. More pain after grueling physical activity? Those athletes are crazy. But, perhaps they’re not so nuts. When muscles are put to work, they wear and tear. They get inflamed. Jumping into a tub of ice water reduces the inflammation and causes your blood vessels to constrict. The blood drains from your legs, leaving your toes looking very pale under there. After ten minutes, when you break free from the frigid waters and get the circulation going again, fresh blood delivers oxygen that muscle cells need to repair the damaged tissue.

Or, at least this seems to be a popular theory. The ducks still think they’re nuts. They couldn’t even float straight! I may be with the ducks. It’s too early to tell.

Yesterday’s run

Distance: 8.0 miles
Time: 1:19:36
Pace: 9:57 min/mile

If you want to see me smile, toss me in a pool. With lane ropes.

Friday, 9th February 2007. Filed in Cross-training2 Comments »

Bay Area represent, yo! It was a happy afternoon at the gym. The first thing I saw as I entered the cardio area was a 49ers jersey. I don’t know if the guy wearing it is from California, but it made me smile. I like to see pieces of home over here. (I happened to be wearing my old and tatty t-shirt from the Great San Francisco Bike Adventure of 1994. I hold on to my shirts!)

I haven’t always had a smile on in this gym. When I became a member in November, I was very excited. New gym, new equipment, good line-up of classes. Trendy looking pool. I wanted to jump right in. Except, it didn’t have any water in it. And I didn’t have my bathing suit on. So they wouldn’t let me.

When the gym opened for use, I quickly became aware that looks can be very, very deceiving. Stainless steel pools may appear chic, but once I so much as dipped a toe in, I came to realize they aren’t practical for swimming laps. They are dark, so it’s hard to see the walls. When uncertain of distances, I tend to err on the side of caution and flip my turns too soon. This leaves me suspended in the water with nothing to push off from. And looking pretty silly. So flipping’s out. I am okay with that. However, I am not so okay with the fact that the pool had no demarcations for swimming laps, nor any type of posted courtesy rules. At a fitness club, I found this a little bit odd. I have absolutely no problem sharing the pool with people playing and doggie paddling around. I like to do handstands and somersaults in the pool as much as the next water baby. BUT. I pay the same membership fees as them, so it seems there should be an area of the pool where I can swim laps for fitness without zigzagging my way across the pool, hoping I don’t kick someone in the stomach.

When I returned to England after Christmas, I gave the pool another try, to see if the gym had addressed user comments. (I couldn’t have been the only one to offer up suggestions). I was hopeful. They put up a sign asking people on one side of the pool to swim clockwise. So that’s what I tried. Until a very sour lady, not following instructions, insisted that she was there first so basically, I was to step off. I work out to be healthy in mind as well as body, so I removed myself from the situation (and vented my frustration to Crunchy husband later). She wasn’t amenable to the idea that if we both swim as per instructions, we could both use the space.

Within the last couple weeks, I heard rumors that they were putting in lane ropes. And today, the first thing I saw as I entered the pool area was a lane rope. And people within the roped off area paddling clockwise. I nearly busted out a happy dance right then and there. Everyone swimming and splashing in harmony. Oh happy, happy day! (I only had a short time to swim today, but man, was it nice and stress-free, the first positive experience in that pool. I can’t wait for the next swim!)

Today’s run

Distance: 2.0 miles (Treadmills bore me!! I can’t do it!)
Time: 18:36
Pace: 9:18 min/mile

Yesterday’s run

Distance: 3.7 miles
Time: 35:19
Pace: 9:32 min/mile

I am amazingly flexible

Thursday, 8th February 2007. Filed in Random foliage3 Comments »

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Look out 17ºS, 26ºE. Here I come!

Tuesday, 6th February 2007. Filed in Random foliage1 Comment »

Last weekend’s Independent on Sunday Review included an article in its Travel Special on ‘confluence hunting’. Intrigued by this new term, I read on.

Apparently there are people—armed with GPS systems and spunky, competitive natures—spreading themselves out over the globe to be the first (documented) person to move into the exact spot where an integer latitude degree line intersects an integer longitude degree line.

My first thought was that author Robert Twigger hit the nail on the head: “It seemed nuts to me to spend a lot of time and money just to go to an arbitrary spot.” I like to travel. But, if it’s going to cost more than a tank of gas, I like to go places I find aesthetic. Or historically important. Or have a new culture for me to drink in. I am attracted to places that offer me a fresh perspective, places that have some other motivating factor beyond that it is where 51ºN crosses 1ºE. [Dad, that’s a clue. Find it! You won’t be disappointed.]

But, the author’s skepticism was washed away by a visit to the Degree Confluence Project website, so I thought I’d check it out. I am quickly beginning to see the appeal. By clicking around the website you can tell, for many of these people, it isn’t really about the destination. Or, at least not the destination in the simple terms of X marks the spot. The project requires the ‘hunter’ to submit photos and a written narrative of his journey. Reading these, you can begin to imagine the adventures people had in getting to their points, or attempting to get there, even if they fell short of their ultimate goal. And yeah, it looks like they are having a pretty good time. I found the website more interesting than finding my house on Google Earth. And that had me amused for days!

Today’s run

Distance: 4.0 miles
Time: 39:42
Pace: 9:55 min/mile

Weekend wanderings, in brief

Monday, 5th February 2007. Filed in Cross-training1 Comment »

I am a bit disquieted today, and simply a bit sad. I’ve got a million confused thoughts running circles in my head. They refuse to order themselves into coherence. So, I don’t have much to say.

I will give a quick training update. Saturday morning I headed over to the coast for my first longer run in a while. It went really well for me, so well that I am beginning to suspect the odometer in our car is playing tricks. (I’ve got to find a trail with marked out mileage to compare paces.) But, maybe it was just my support cheering me on that gave me a spark.

After my run, we packed up the car and drove down near Brighton to camp for the night. It was cold, but on Sunday we warmed ourselves by hiking up to Black Cap and over to the beacon on Mount Harry. The views weren’t clear because it was so misty, but it was still a good hike in the countryside.

Saturday’s run

Distance: 6.0 miles
Time: 56:47
Pace: 9:27 min/mile

Sunday’s hike

Up to Black Cap, over to Mount Harry beacon and down again: 1:15:00