2009 New Year's Resolutions
(back from a FREEZING night sleeping in the campervan in the Peak District)
I can't resist. Not sure why - I rarely keep to them for more than a few weeks. But there is something irresistible about that clean slate to write on - a fresh new year. A chance to do things right.
1. Stop shopping! (go for the shabby-chic retro look).
2. Follow my running training plan on Buckeyeoutdoors to be prepared for the White Peak Swift Half Marathon in May and the Mendip Muddle 20K in October.
3. I found a quote I really like: Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away. Make sure that I'm not too busy to notice them.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
2009 New Year's Resolutions
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I sent in my forms for the White Peak "Swift" Half Marathon 0n 16 May 2009, and paid for my kids' entries for Christmas... hmm... isn't that really a gift for me? Oh well.
Join us! The sign-up is limited to the first 200 people and opens on 1 Jan 2009 - it usually fills up by April. Here's the link to the entry form:
Its a great race; soft underfoot on an abandoned railway line with fantastic scenery and a 800 ft downhill cruise for the second half - really fun!
There's a video of Nick and my Swift Half run in 2009 which can be found at this link on Runcast.tv . Petra and Snowshadow Phil also talked about running it this year!
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Recovered from my bug, I really enjoyed the run on the beach this morning - what a great break from dank, dark and dreary London! A colleague and I extended the business trip a couple of days to see a bit of Ghana. I had my doubts as we said goodbye to our driver and his lovely air conditioned vehicle, and moved pretty down-market in hotels, but it was great to see a bit of the country. It would have been a pity to go home only having seen the beach, a conference room, our western style hotel and the drive between!
Well, it was great except for the 3 hr drive to Cape Coast in a taxi with no AC, in horrible traffic (both ways!!) What a miserable journey, choking down petrol fumes and sweating! I guess one really needs to travel very early or very late to avoid the Accra congestion. Sometime we didn't move for 10 minutes, as people came up to the car trying to sell us everything from drinks to a dictionary (really!) But the music on the radio was reggae or West African highlife music which I'm going to search out at home!
But as we began climbing up into the rainforest at the Kukum National Park, I knew it was all worth it. The canopy walk, a roped bridge 40 m up in the trees was the Ghanian equivalent of an amusement park for masses of school kids, but it was fantastic all the same. We were dripping sweat as we waited our turn on the forest floor, it felt like 100% humidity! But high in the trees there was a breeze and what a view!
Then we visited the British forts at Cape Coast and Elmina - sobering and horrific reminders of the slave trade. I’ll never forget standing in a lightless, airless stone cell that held women in incredibly overcrowded and inhumane conditions for months before they were boarded on ships never to see their loved ones again.
I wandered around the market at Elmina by myself for an hour and chatted with women at the Kente cloth stalls, and explored the noisy fish market. I really wish Billy had been with me to photograph the impossibly ordered chaos!
Home now with lots of souveniers of Ghana, necklaces, paintings, cloth and other suprises that will re-appear on Christmas morning. I do hope I get to go back to Ghana again!
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Its been an interesting week in Ghana, meeting with the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation and our counterparts at the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate. We’ve been treated like visiting dignitaries, chauffeured around by a driver in a lovely Air Conditioned car and addressed with undeserved respect. The Ghanaians are incredibly warm and friendly people; they laugh alot.
We’ve spent all of the time in one conference room, reviewing documents, except for two hours a day driving from the hotel to the office and back. The stretch along which we are we are driven, from the capital, Accra to Tema, the container shipping port, is far off the tourist track and the inhabitants seem to live a pretty hard life. The women walk along the road balancing their wares on top of their heads (bags of water or fried plantains) and the shops are open shacks and most wares are set out in front on sides of road.
I most wanted to buy one of these coffins! To set out on that last journey in a giant duck or a model cruise ship would certainly lighten the mood at a funeral. I shudder to think how much it would cost to ship one to England!
I managed an beautiful early run on the beach a couple of mornings, but then caught a nasty food bug, and I didn’t want to stray too far from a toilet for a couple of days... But I’m feeling better now and we’ve a tourist day tomorrow visiting Cape Coast and the Kukum rainforest. It will be great to see a different stretch of road and some green space before heading home.
I saw this scary ad for a herbal AIDS treatment.... I hope they don't have many customers.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Weekend in Paris 6-11 Nov 2008
My boss asked me if I'd go to a meeting for her... well if I have to...in Paris. Yeah! So I added another meeting with my French Govt counterpart on Monday and voila, a weekend in Paris! Billy joined me on the Eurostar, through the Channel Tunnel.
So far so good, but I brought nice clothes and decided I wanted to feel like a Parisian, instead of a gawking tourist, as I have on previous trips.... big mistake! My trendy street shoes were incredibly painful as Billy and I walked ALL over Paris.
Whatever was I thinking??? No one I knew saw me! Why didn't I just wear comfy running shoes!! After abandoning Billy during two days of meetings, I knew we'd want to explore together on the weekend, so I decided to skip running kit.
So my favorite places were the ones where we stopped walking!! Little out of the way restaurants, the Picasso Museum and an eclectic exhibit, "Academia" at l'Ecole des beaux-arts.
Paris is so cool and Parisians know it. Definite advantage in collaborating with the Germans in WWI, they didn't bomb it like the Blitz in London and Napoleon III's architect, Baron Haussmann, demolished most of Paris' medieval narrow streets, replacing them with grand monuments and parks with 12 avenues leading out from the Arc de Triomphe.
We walked from sunrise to sunset - far more than my 30 min requirement on Kelownagirl challenge.
But I was barely shuffling by the time we got back to the Eurostar and I had to take most of the week off running as my feet still ache!
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
The Yorkshire Dales 19-25th October 2008
The Dales Way is an 84 mile long-distance footpath which follows the lovely Wharfedale valley through the beautiful Yorkshire Dales National Park all the way to the Lake District. With only a week we knew it would be a challenge - of logistics at least, with a campervan to move along with us, as well as the dog. Fortunately the forcast was rain and everyone else stayed home -we saw very few people, some days no-one!
Then we headed up into the deserted upper Wharfdale valley where Billy chatted with this stonewall-mending air-guitar player. The rain settled in, so we drove the loop to the north of the national park, stopping off at the Wensleydale Cheese factory where we saw the most walkers in the whole trip!
The best day out was the last when we made a 12 mile loop up Flintergill and around the village of Dent. I liked the history of Dent which was at one time a veritable power-house of hand-knitting, the profits from which provided an often essential addition to their meagre farming income. The "terrible knitters of Dent" would knit during church (shock!) and until the early 19th century the men, women and children would knit by holding one of the needles protruding from a belt, and with the other in the right hand, the left hand was free to do another job, such as churning the butter or wrapping the cheeses.. Cool, I'll have to try it for knitting and walking!
Sunday, October 12, 2008
World Wide Half 2008
Our plans to run the Mendip Muddle fell apart today when Nick brought the car home sounding like a tractor. It apparently needs a new muffler/silencer, so we decided to RUN LOCAL! We printed out our WWH race bibs and set off with Nelly (the dog).
This is the second year we've pulled out of the Mendip Muddle at the last minute. NEXT YEAR we're REALLY going to do it!
We chose a route along the Grand Union Canal from Chorleywood. Using my Garmin we ran north for 6.6 mi and then retraced our steps along the tow path. It was a foggy morning and very quiet as we padded past the longboats moored along the canal.
It is impossible to resist peaking into the longboats - some are elegant and others are pretty rough. Many in this stretch are on long-term moorings and it feels a bit voyeuristic running a few feet away from someone's private home!
As the miles and heat increased, Nick began suffering the effects of little running training and a late night partying the night before. Ah, the recklessness of youth! He thought that running a little half with Mom would be easy! I resisted smug rightousness (early to bed last night, and being better trained for running despite being 52!) when he dropped out with a pulled groin muscle about mile 10. To his credit, he is incredibly supportive to agree to run with me as he's far more interested in rock climbing and bike riding!
They say that pride comes before a fall... well I was humbled by a tumble on a tree root which resulted in a skinned knee and a tweeked ankle. But I limped on, ignoring the funny looks at the blood dripping down my leg. If I take out the time I spent rolling around in the ditch and brushing myself off, I figure I finished in 2:14. Not a PR, but at least I finished the WWH this year!
Then I shuffled back up the canal path very slowly to meet Nick and buy us ice cream. (Which tasted the best ever!)
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
I really aspired to be "Bad", one tough Mama that people would think twice about messing with - Hey, my sister's got her black belt and drives a Harley!! I had a role model! (that's Linnie in the photo) I run with a big German Shepherd!
I set off this morning to run a usual 6 mi route, one I've run dozens of times before. It crosses through a London Underground Station, and the station staff just wave me through and open the gate. My station is one stop short of the farthest away from London you can ride on the underground, and its a quiet commuter stop, usually deserted mid-day.
Today when I waved at the guy in the ticket booth, this big mean bouncer-type-guy (with a Station Manager name tag), came out the back and told me I could not come though the station without a ticket! I made feeble objections along the line of "but I always do" and "but this is a public footpath", which did not convince him. Looping around the station means running under a narrow busy underpass and perhaps an additional 0.25 mile... but my sense of injustice was in the withdrawal of my entitlement!
That's when things went horribly wrong. I just said "Oh, all right", moaned... and went around. Why didn't I have the presence of mind to:
1) take his picture and send it with a brilliantly critical letter to the local paper
2) teach Nelly to knock down bad guys so I could race by him
3) at least have some clever, cutting and very Bad come-back to his parting snicker of "you're doing this to get more exercise, aren't you?"
I failed, miserably. Maybe I just needed the right T-shirt... Can I have another chance to be Bad?
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Nelly and me at the dog training club demonstration at the village fair. It poured during our practice session Friday night, so a break in the rain on Saturday was welcome. But the common was a muddy mess!
Ali's down on the Isle of Wight for a music festival, Bestival - what a nightmare that must be with all this rain!
Monday, September 01, 2008
(This is a very short, 4 second video. Click on the black box, and then the right triangle to play)
Does this look like a good day to run a 10k? I was really lucky that I ran my Nike+ Human Race at 7am, because by noon, the lane in front of my house looked like this! The people that ran the "official race" from Wembly later in the day must have been soaked!
But I could use the mileage for the Bad Girls in the Bad Girls of Running vs Bad Bad Boys of Running Challenge on Runnerplus
Thursday, August 28, 2008
I got to meet a podcasting star!
Nigel, the host of the Running from the Reaper podcast, was taking a class near Heathrow and agreed to come and meet me for a run from home. What should have been a 20 min drive here was over an hour with an accident on the M25! I'm sure he was tempted to turn around and go back to his hotel. But he finally made it and we took a few snaps of the historic event (for me!) and we were off on a 7 mile run in the Chiltern hills.
It took me a minute to re-sync my recognition - merging the complete stranger at my door with the very familiar voice I know from his podcast. I can't quite define difference between the Nigel I expected versus the reality, but perhaps he laughed more than the meditative thinker I expected. It didn't take long for me to feel very comfortable with the genuine article!
In fading light we padded along soft trails, chatting about our training, web of friends online, Nigel's recovery from surgery, Staffordshire vs Buckinghamshire - the time flew. Over dinner my husband Billy enjoyed talking to a kindred soul, sharing conspiracy theories, and sock preferences as they are both pretty picky about what they put on their feet!
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Friday, August 22, 2008
It was spitting rain when I rode my bike to the station and took the train to London. Getting out at Marylebone it started to rain and I considered taking the underground to work instead of running, but I'd been listening to QN "Sage goes to the Dentist" on the train ( a great episode) and I was in a mood for rain. Maybe it was the coffee, or the podcast or just the quiet London streets, but I felt unreasonably happy. They were setting up the tents in Hyde Park for the Olympic handoff to the London 2012 games and I somehow felt a part of it running past. The only place I had to wait for a light was at Wellington Arch behind Buckingham Palace, and as the rain poured down two other runners joined me, waiting for the light to change. They also had their earbuds in. We stomped around together for a minute and then shared an incredibly warm grin. Crazy people, out running in the rain at 7am - but loving it! (photo from my office on Victoria Street looking at New Scotland Yard)
Sunday, August 17, 2008
RRT and Sunday run August 17 2008
The Runner's round table last night was fun and I think with Dr Monte's addition, it had real substance instead of just chatter. I listened to the whole thing on my long run this morning and although my additions made me cringe, it was interesting all in all. It was a brilliant morning for a run. Nelly and I kept to the trees to stay cool, and the 6 miles was almost over too soon.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Oslo Conference 10-14 August 2008
IGC Conference was huge! And covered a vast breath of geologic topics. I thought my talk went well, but looking a the photo, I should have stood on a box! There were only about 30 people that came to my session, but at least I got a question I could answer. I usually just get to oil and gas industry conferences. This one was more academic but fascinating.
Prices were unbelievable. Here's a relatively cheap restaurant menu - burrito for 139 Kroners or 13 pounds or 25 dollars! And a small beer was 60 Kronors (6 pounds, 11 dollars!) Strange fish mixtures were offered for breakfast, but I chickened out and went for yogurt and muesli.
I did manage to get a couple of good runs in and Billy had the good sense to send me out with the garmin satnav we use in the campervan. The Nuvi worked great to help me navigate back to the hotel, and its not much bigger than a mobile phone. I'm sure I would have been lost without it. We explored Oslo the last day and saw the maritime museum and the sturdy Fram ship that Admundsen used for his dog sled trip to the North Pole.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
9 Weeks till the Mendip Muddle 6 August 2008
Thanks to Nigel, Nick's trendy fixed gear city bike has a WWH sticker. But he's not had any luck in challenges to his buff climber friends to join us. Once he says he's running with his mother.... oh well.
I've built up my base and only occasionally feel the plantar fasciitis tweek, so now it is time to start on the weekly long runs again.
This weekend Billy and I are off to Olso, where I'm giving a paper at the 33rd International Geological Congress. I've never been to Norway, so it will be an adventure.
I've looked at mapmyrun for some ideas of where to fit in a 5-6 mile run before the conference start. I'll get a better idea of the terrain in GoogleEarth but I've not yet had the time to check it.
Worrying more about what to wear... typical. I should be worrying about my talk!
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
A new plan for training! 29 July 2008
I've been struggling recently to get lunchtime runs in between meetings. And it has been hot in London the last few weeks. So starting tomorrow, I'm going to dress in my running kit and take my usual train ride at 6:30 am, half an hour to London Marylebone... but this is the new part... I'm going to run to work instead of taking the three tube rides I take normally. I bet I can get there in about the same time! OK, I'll have to add a bit of time to shower and change into work clothes, but it just might solve my run/work.life balance problem.
My "body sculpting for women" is not producing the outstanding results promised by the book of that name, either. Probably the same root cause, I'm just not getting the workouts done. I've noticed a woman the last two nights going home on the train who is not young, but looks fit and one can't help but notice that she has arm muscles. Not the super-obvious, Madonna-like "I workout in the gym 4 hrs a day" kind, but just nice "I take care of my body" ones. So, I'm inspired to keep working at lifting, too.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
19-20 July Weekend walking around Withering and Thorney Island
Work has been crazy busy! I have 70 meetings scheduled in June and July (ARG!), so getting the lunchtime run in has been impossible and I just don't have the self discipline to do it after I get off the train .
But I finally got a Friday of and after a late start, we drove to the south coast and stopped at Arundel Castle to stretch our legs. Too expensive to go in...but we bought a great chocolate mint ice cream to share. Strolling about with no time constraints was glorious!
It seems that our National Trust membership does not seem to be of much use in southeast England.
We walked 13 miles around the coast and woods near Withern and then stayed in a noisy campground. The next day we walked almost 10 mi around Thorney Island after giving our names at the military barracks. Windy but mostly sunny and we were tired but happy to get outside.
Back to the grind on Monday
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
20 weeks before the WWH Mendip Muddle
Photos from Cornwall and a week long trip Billy and I took walking the coastal path in May. It was great and I got a couple of days in a throwing class from a master, Joanna Howell. Joanna is a great teacher and I finally have learned how to properly wedge and knead clay - and the secret to throwing with porcelain - use thick slip not water!!!
But now it is 20 weeks to the Phedippidations Half Marathon - so enough of the life of leisure, its time to get back to training. I've enjoyed this week putting my training plan back on buckeyeoutdoors and planning how to be stronger this year, so that I won't be injured in hill training, like I was last year.
I bought Liz's suggestion for the "Body Sculpting Bible" (and have been the victim of vicious teasing at home). Neera helping me to work out a lifting routine to do at work... I'm going to approach training differently this year. One day running alternated with one day lifting.
And the diet in the book looks reasonable too. I can have oatmeal and protein powder for breakfast, a big salad with tuna and lentils for lunch, and lean meats/fish and veg for dinner.
After 10 weeks on Nigel's 10 in 10 Challenge, I only lost two pounds... but the timing just wasn't right with holidays, travelling and the a really busy spell at work. Now that my goal race is in view, I really think that staying focused (and skipping the ice cream and sweets) will just make that spare tyre melt away. Well, that's the plan anyway.
Monday, April 14, 2008
2008 Flora London Marathon
04:51:27 was not quite the 4:45 I had targeted, still under 5 hrs, and I honestly feel like I gave it my all. Mary and Graham gave me the benefit of their experience at the Expo, but didn't tell me how hard it would be!
The marathon started out great above Greenwich, sunny and happy with kids lining the streets wanting us to touch their hands, bands playing - it felt like a Carnival. I wished I had made an effort with a costume, but not the heavy dog one guide dogs offered! I ran too fast and did not take walk breaks in this first section, it just felt so easy and fun. I realised I was way ahead of schedule and needed to make a bathroom stop - but the queue was horrible, so I lost any advantage. Then again, I really did not have much choice - it must have been the excitement and Lucozade I drank before the start, but fortunately that was my last bio break.
And I learned another marathon fact - the ambulance people who are holding out their hands, are not looking to shake yours - they have Vaseline on their hands! (for chaffing I guess). I inadvertently got a handful I had to try to get rid of - Yeach! And the first Lucozade stop was an unexpected experience - my shoes stuck to the ground!
Then the rain hit about mile 10 and the people lining the streets looked a bit grim, just trying to pick out their loved ones. I really felt sorry for the runners who didn't have a jacket! I saw one guy in a g-string with a chain around his neck that looked miserable! Fortunately, I had tied a light jumper around my waist - but I almost didn't (for fashion reasons!) because it was so nice at the start. I started walking through some of the water stops about this time, but I was surprised how few people were taking walk breaks. My frugal nature did not help me either - I really struggled to throw the bottle of water away after a few sips. So I carried one bottle through 3 water stops until I decided that was just a stupid waste of energy. But such a waste of all those plastic bottles!
I tried to text Billy to check where he was while I was running and I dropped the phone - ARG! People were remarkably nice as I took a dive for the phone in their path! After the sun came back out , I spotted my husband and daughter, which perked me up and they were able to open up the packets of shot blocks I carried that I couldn't open because my hands were too cold, and help me mix up Hammer "Sustained Energy" to avoid Lucozade. Shortly afterwards I had to give up on using my Garmin for pacing as the GPS signal was lost in the tall buildings of Canary Wharf, so I just ran on and on, not knowing how fast. Strange limbo feeling - I checked my pace on my Nike+ a couple of times, and it was about 11:00 or so, but I always struggle with calibration so I don't really trust it.
Then somewhere out in the endless Isle of Dogs the rain and hail came back. Putting on that wet jumper was not pleasant, but I wasn't as frozen as most of the runners in just little vests and shorts. The headwind wind and hail were brutal!
High points were the cheers across Tower Bridge which were deafening and coming up from the underpass under the Embankment was great, with the London Eye and Big Ben in view. I never felt like I "hit the wall", but those 2 last miles seemed to take forever. I really did not want to run anymore, but knew that the only way to stop was to finish, so I just put my head down and pushed ahead, but it was tough going, weaving through all the runners who were now walking.
I was so relieved to finish, but no one warned me how painful it is when you stop running!! I was so glad to see Billy when I got out of the secure area and he'd found a friend who offered us a ride home in their car. Bliss. I felt so sad for people who finished without anyone to greet them who had to struggle home on trains. I didn't have dry socks or a dry shirt in my bag (idiot!) but my down parka felt great.
It was great to be part of such a big event and the fanfare even if running a marathon was a lot harder than I had anticipated. I'll stick to nice fun half marathons in the future, and buy stock in ibuprofen. Never again, but I guess I said that about childbirth too.
I looked at my Garmin split times and they are junk, because of the poor reception, but the 5k splits from the chip times show the following pace 09:56, 12:16, 10:47, 10:35, 11:25, 11:22, 11:25 and 11:05. First too fast, then too slow with bio break, then slowing in the hail and rain and finally settling in to an 11 min pace for the end.
What an experience!