This week has mostly been about trying to keep my head above water, and even that seems to be a lot of effort right now.
Work is pure chaos, which makes this:
seem like a really, bloody long time ago. Yet it was only Saturday.
I ended up having to go into the office for a couple of hours on Saturday, so the run got bumped out of daylight hours into I've-just-about-got-time-to-spare hours instead. I could have done with a lie-in on Saturday morning, but woke up at 7.30am, and decided that I might as well get up and moving and into the office.
I managed to bundle myself in there by 9.30am, and took the car even though it's only 10 mins walk away from the flat, because I was going to meet my friends Bec and Graeme for lunch. It was really good to see them, even if it was very brief, although I think Bec was a bit disappointed that I hadn't dragged Chris along for her to meet! He was already off mountain-biking though, so that (trauma) will just have to wait for another day.
I managed to escape work at about 4ish, but the light was already fading by then, so any hopes of a daylight run were scuppered. More annoyingly, my iPod Shuffle's battery gave up 15 mins into the run, so I had to run the remaining 40 mins without it, although that actually wasn't nearly as bad as I'd anticipated it would be. The run felt quite loose and easy again, and I had just enough time when I got back to slam some food down my throat and have a mini-panic about what the hell to wear to the house party in the evening.
Top marks to our friends Cat and Ollie at the party, who know both Chris and myself, and hadn't been explicitly told that we were now seeing each other, and managed to diplomatically avoid any "oh-my-GOD" moments. It was a fairly chilled out party, rather than a crazy one, so I managed to get home at the relatively sensible time of 1am. Annoyingly, we'd thought that there would potentially be an entire flat full of people staying at ours, so Chris had decided to drive home rather than crash the flat, since I'm sleeping in the lounge at the moment. I couldn't head back with him, because I needed to get my surfboard out of my storage first thing on Sunday morning, so it was a very chaste night .... except that I got home to find that everybody else had ended up staying elsewhere so I had the entire flat to myself. Damnit! It's hard enough finding time alone at the moment, with work and me not having my own permanent place, so just ......... grrrrrr.
Impressively, I was up early on Sunday, and at the storage place at 10am to grab my board. Just by chance, I thought I see whether the board would fit inside the car - I suspected it would be a couple of inches too long to fit but thought it was worth a try. Unbelievably, my 8ft surfboard and it's board bag just fits in the car! In my little, tiny C1. It's literally a case of the nose being on the dashboard, pressed up against the windscreen and the tail end sitting against the boot lid, but it fits! That's going to be awesome for when I want to do a solo trip!!!
Saunton was beautiful when we got there. It was a little blustery - just on the edge of usable, but a glorious day. It's such a long walk down to the water though when you're carrying a board! It wasn't too bad on the way down as I was fresh and excited, but coming back up I was tired and the wind was against me, and it seemed like an insurmountable task! Chris was sweet enough to go and get me a hot chocolate whilst I was fighting my way out of my wetsuit and getting changed (he'd got in and out earlier than me) ..... he even bought back a choice of with-cream or with-marshmallows. Good stuff!
The view of the beach as we drove away was breath-taking - one of the things I love most about surfing is the huge sense of space you get when you're out there. It's so majestic and peaceful.
Since then it's been bloody chaos at work. Late nights, frantic phone-calls and emailing, and a lot of swearing. Eating has not been great, but it's better than last week, and I'm still tracking it all as best I can remember it. I managed to get out for my run tonight, and churned out 40 mins at (for me) a fairly decent pace. My mile times are slow at the moment - around the 12 min mark depending on what length of run I'm doing, but that's improved since the first week, when they were around the 12:30 mark, so hopefully they'll keep slowly improving.
Hetty asked last post when I started enjoying my runs. The honest answer is that there wasn't a lightbulb moment, but I think it was the combination of a few factors. I knew from the outset that this half-marathon and it's training would be hard for me, as I'm not a natural runner. I have one speed: plod. Accordingly, my one ambition as just been to complete it. I have no aspirations for speed or a particular predicted time. I don't even aim to finish it all without walking at all. I just aim to finish it. Period.
With that aim in mind, and only that, I dropped any worries about pace or distance during my training at the door. No point. The training is a long way, over a long period of weeks, and the only way to get through that and stay sane is make it as easy as possible for myself, and if that means deliberately setting out slow and steady, and checking my pace every so often to conserve energy, then that's just fine. I don't even care if I have to walk during a training run - there's no pressure on myself other than to work for the required period of time for each session. What that meant is that I've been very gentle on myself. I did need to walk during the first three runs, and I didn't beat myself up about it. I skipped (the only two runs of the training program I've skipped so far) the two short interval runs in the first two weeks as I wasn't interested in them.
Somewhere along the way, I've discovered that I have a gear that enables me to just keep going. In that gear, my breathing is deep, but even and controlled, and my muscles don't particularly ache. Since my 4th run, I haven't needed to stop and walk on any of my runs. I've just eased my pace and kept steadily plodding. I fully expect that at some point my runs will get to a distance where I will need to walk for a bit, and I'll cross that road when I get to it, but it's not yet.
The other factor in my increased enjoyment, is being able to tick off every run on my schedule and see it done. It's satisfying. And when a run stops being something you dread for how much it will hurt, it becomes a time when you feel strong, and also a time to mull stuff over.
I've had a 3+ years of love / hate relationship with running before getting to this point, but for the moment, something has clicked for me, and I enjoy most of my runs, and even quite look forward to them in the evening, as they're a good way to let go of the tension of the day. I have a lot of tension to let go of right now!!!
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