"Never be limited by other people's limited imaginations. If you adopt their attitudes, then the possibility won't exist because you'll have already shut it out." -Mae Jemison, astronaut

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Blood, Sweat and ... Well, More Blood

It seems like my training program involves a lot of blood letting these days.

First of all, there's blood letting in my "brutal training" (the strength training program, which was aptly named immediately following the first session when I needed a title within my google calendar). At the gym once a week it's fine, but at home, it's usually about 30 degrees in my house. So that means I wait until it's slightly cooler and go outside. Which means...mossie time!

The home gym with 'natural' air conditioning
At the gym, the trainer encourages me at times to work faster...at home, the mosquitoes do the same! I'm very focused to not waste time between sets and reps as I am eaten alive. I must burn more calories, swatting wildly along the way, too. And there's the added mental training of keeping oneself doing deep one-legged squats with weights whilst a proboscis buries itself into one's skin.

This is going to be one of my secret weapons in my next race - mossie mental stamina training.

Ice bath and chocolate Recoverite - ticking all the boxes!
Additionally, as I increase the mileage with the goal of the Coburg 6hr event in March, my periostitis is whispering away at me again. Lots of ice and massage and stretches of opposing muscles seems helpful (and trying to up my Udo's Oil and other omegas like avocados). But last night as I ran home from a 26k easy run (meant to be 20k for me, but my running partner had a route in mind that provided her requisite 15k and me 26k!)...anyway, I was saying...as I ran home, I thought about my promise to myself to start ice bathing after big efforts. Only I don't have a bath. So a few days ago I bought an 81ltr bin. A km from home, I dug out my emergency cash at the servo and bought a big bag. And used my new strong arms and core to run home with a bag of ice!

Then it was into the bath....for some more mossie-therapy.

And finally, despite ultrasound, surgery, and numerous blood tests, I still don't have all the answers to my chronic low iron issue.... So I have been testing the hypothesis of coeliac disease by going gluten free since before Coast to Kosci. However, my experiment is rather flawed. Yes, I feel better and don't have wind (gas for the North Americans out there). But the only way to test for coeliac is to test a person who is eating gluten! Today I'm off to get a note from a GP for another blood test. But I think I need three. Because I've continued to take the horse-pill sized iron pills. A test now will tell me what my iron is like whilst on pills AND gluten free. Then I need to eat gluten (on or off the pills??) and re-test. Then I need another post-test once I know the results of those two tests and have more real-life experience (staying off gluten and not taking pills?).

Running is a simple sport, right?

Running hills in 30 degrees...good mates make the time pass better!
My mileage last week was up to 85k +1200 mtrs. Using the 100mtr gain = 1km flat rule of thumb, that puts it closer to 100k in the legs. This week I'm increasing that, though having to be more creative with the program, as it's a "PTS week" again with an event on Sunday. Hence, the reason I was okay with my 20k run turning into 26k. Really, it's pretty amazing to be to a point in my life's fitness that when a planned run increases by 30%, I don't even bat an eye. And that I can do a 3.5hr easy run on no fuel (go fat burning!)...but don't take away my water!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Aiming for a new PB

Two more weeks of "brutal training" (my new strength training program) under my belt and early suggestions are that it's making a difference. Right sided issues (psoas, back/QL, etc) have dissipated. I feel like I'm running taller. Seriously, yes. Though I did say that perhaps it's just because my arms and core are so darn sore I can't slouch if I want to! ;) It's all correlational research so far, though, so more time will tell - particularly as I start to build the mileage base again markedly next week towards Coburg 6 hr.

Setting up the alien calling devices? Transporter beams?
My chief problem now may be that I've just gone into the black hole known as "PTS Season." For most here in WA, they call it "summer." But I have this beautiful and very demanding little curly haired mischief called the Perth Trail Series. This year, now my second year of running the series, I decided to increase capacity from 150 to 200 people. Well, that's a 30% increase in work! Plus, on top of it, my IT-brained other half of the series, Rolf, decided he'd like to have a go at creating his own timing system. Yup, right from scratch. Write the software, build the RFID antenna towers, source the chips. Learn how antennae talk to chips in their language and at what decibel they speak and then get them to talk to a laptop, as well. Then convert that all into "human" language that racers can read in a pretty table on their computers at home, because that's the part they care about. The lounge is now a permanent workshop. Neighbours slow down as they walk by the house, with concerned looks for all the antennae on the lawn during testing phases! Most people had Santas on their lawns at Christmas; we had an orange gantry and metal rods and pylons and cables :)

180 of 200 entrants showed up on the morning that stayed rain free
This past week was a blur of handling emails with competitors debating shoe and hydration issues or debating between long and short courses, arranging volunteer duty rosters and duty sheets, gluing chips on bibs, compiling lists, recompiling lists, buying water, arranging fruit (organic, yee haw!), creating a contingency plan when Cyclone Narelle threatened to dump 60kph winds and heavy rain on us, flagging the course, piling up prizes, talking to park rangers, recompiling lists, panicking (best to schedule that one in before race day to get it over with), stuffing swag bags, meeting runners to hand out bibs at pre-race collection...and on it went.

All of the sudden it was race morning. I rang the bells 4 times, to start the long and short courses in two waves each. I got 5 more volunteers into place and 50 minutes later, the first trail runners were sprinting in after polishing off a quick 12k. The long course runners (19k) came in from 1.25 to 2.5 hours, as expected. Shoulders and ankles were iced, bodies were re-hydrated, laughs were shared, and presentations were made. Four of the 180 starters came back the less preferred way, with a DNF. At 10.30 AM, everyone headed home. My world went from 100 kph to 0 in 6 seconds. We took all the leftover bits of the PTS "mischief" and crammed them back into the cars.

Where the joy is - seeing them finish
The denouement hit as I packed up. This is an incredibly rewarding job. An utterly exhausting one, that certainly has me questioning how on earth I'll manage to peak with training in the middle of it all, but something that's so darn good it's worth it right now. Perhaps it's a bit like an ultra to me. There's the excitement of the lead-up, then the "business end" of the race itself when it's all hard and hurting, but accepted because of the anticipated reward at the end when the fruits of the labour are reaped.

But this event's reward factor was slightly down. It wasn't a record performance for me. Numbers are up, yes. But it meant I was spread too thin, micro-managing too many details that need to be handled by others. Easily half of yesterday's runners I didn't get to personally cheer, meet, or congratulate in any way. And that's where the joy is.

I'll have to write a new "race plan" for two weeks' time. Fortunately, I get 4 more opportunities to set a PB ;)