Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How to run a marathon

In a way, this is the best time before a marathon. The Marathon Death Star's tractor beam has you in its grip and you are drawn inexorably toward Race Day. Apart from drinking water until you slosh, mainlining echinacea and vitamin C because of all the inconsiderate people who insist on coming to work and coughing Bastards!, and eschewing heels the ultimate sacrifice! - nothing can be done that hasn't already been done. It's quite peaceful really, although I feel a bit sick when I think about actually covering 42.2km, which is a frightfully long way when you think about it, which is why I generally don't, under the cutoff time, which is a terrible worry and another thing not to think about.
Lists are a help, of course, aiding as they do in LBTEPA's raison d'etre, Making A Plan. So for the edification of any aspiring Very Slow Marathoners who might have stumbled across this blog (and the amusement of any lost skinnyfasts), let us open the vaults and reveal a couple of LBTEPA's Helpful Lists.
4 days out - what you really should have done already.
- quite a bit of running. If you haven't got around to this I'd really think hard about giving the whole thing a miss for the time being. My training is at the lower end of the distance spectrum and includes a lot of cross-training because Goofy is my goal and injury management is more important to me than time at this point, but it has been systematic ALL HAIL THE SCHEDULE and as consistent as I could manage. A Very Slow Marathon entails a long time alone with your poor sore body and your poor tired head, so you need to get used to that. If any of your long runs have been train crash/ sufferfests, then you will start the race knowing you can slog it out if you have to. There are different ways of Respecting the Distance, but they all include Do The Long Runs.
An aside - in another some people will really never get it moment at work the other day, we were talking about the ash cloud from the Chilean volcano and how I was worried we mightn't get to Queensland if it comes back and the flights are grounded again (so far so good, fingers crossed please chaps) when someone asked wouldn't you be a bit relieved to have an excuse not to run? I think I mumbled something about how I'd paid my entry and was looking forward to getting some more bling, but after some reflection and inept mental arithmetic, I realised that what I meant to say was I've run almost 700km in training for this and the only this that would stop me getting to the bloody start line is an Act Of God. AND I want some more bling.
- practiced your hydration and nutrition plan ALL HAIL THE MIGHTY HYDRATION AND NUTRITION PLAN! Without food and drink of appropriate quantity and digestibility, the VSM experience can get very ugly very quickly. The LBTEPA VSM Fueling Research Program prescribes water (carried in a waist belt) every ten minutes or so, and a gel every hour. I use Endura gels because a) I've never had either the sugar shakes or GI problems with them and b) they're Australian made and owned so they are not only cheaper but virtuous, and I'm all about cheap virtue hang on I think that came out wrong.
- thought about pacing. I write PATIENCE on my hand lest I shoot off like a bottle rocket and fizzle out as quickly. The Plan for VSM#4 at this stage is run 3 songs: walk 1 until 32km and then decide whether to swap to run 2km: walk 2 minutes. In the interest of Slowness Freakout Avoidance I am contemplating running sans watch as I only use it to know ehn to have my gels and every 7km would work about the same. Your thoughts?
- come up with Plans B, C and D. Plans B and C are for when the Race Gods have got up on the wrong side of the bed, they're not feeling the love and neither are you - in short, it's Just Not Your Day. I'll be carrying ibuprofen and asthma spray. D is for DNF. It's helpful to have decision criteria for walking off the course: mine are inability to breathe, or a joint injury FINGERS CROSSED AGAIN CHAPS!
- decided what you are going to wear and tried it while running at least once. If it doesn't fit, chafes, or rides up - in short, fails to enhance your fabulousness - you don't want to find out on race day. There will be photos, you know!
- tamed or at least securely corralled your demons. The long runs will have helped with this, as you have proven to yourself that you can keep moving through a cloud of I'm so slow, what a loser, I'm so fat, I'm a joke, everyone is laughing at me, why do I bother with this I'm not going to make the cutoff. If you haven't already, now is the time to give those buggers the finger and tell them see you on Sunday afternoon, fellas, at which time you will have a nice big shiny new piece of bling with which to dazzle them and entice them back to their dark lairs, for a while anyway.
- practiced smiling for the finish. Finishing a marathon is one of life's wonderful experiences but your face will be very tired let's face it your entire body will be very tired and you don't want to be all hunched over and scowly as you thunder down the chute to the deafening applause of the admiring crowd. Another bonus of practising that ol' finish line grin is the amusement it provides your neighbours to see you smiling and waving at nothing and no-one at 10am on a Saturday. LBTEPA Inc. is nothing if not community-minded.

What to do in the last 4 days
- drink drink drink then drink some more
- if anyone asks you how your preparation is going, tell them. It is fascinating and they are actually very interested. Even when they back away or feign death.
- finalise marathon playlist and make sure 1p0d is charged
- write encouraging messages on gels. Any thoughts for me?
- pack and travel
- do race nails
- pick up race pack; attempt to refrain from purchasing unnecessary fripperies at the expo
- meet up with imaginary internet friends to eat pasta and desperately pretend that, as a Multiple Marathoner coo er gosh eh you are not so scared you can hardly speak
- pin number on at least four times, aiming for maximum aesthetic pleasingness
- think ohshitoshitohshitwe'reallgoingtodie approx. 100000000000 times
- remember to breathe

More anon, champers at the bit!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I don't know

All is confusion here at Chateau LBTEPA. Let me share with you my current conundrums, or, to put it another way, Things I Don't Know
- whether my sinuses you just knew those little buggers would be involved somehow are waking me up at night and distracting me during the day because a) there's a lot of smoke around at the moment or b)they're gearing up for a major hurt-fest a week out from VSM#4 when I have training for work all week and won't be able to get to the doctor.
- why the dogs stole my makeup bag out of my handbag and took it out into the back yard to play with. I do know that they were very lucky that they didn't chew it up or damage any of the contents. Bad dogs!
- why I have a tummy ache. Poor sleep? Nerves? Too much fibre? Some horrific and inevitably fatal ailment I've stupidly ignored?
- whether to wear my new shoes during VSM#4 or cross my fingers that the old ones have 42.2km of cushioning left in them. The new ones are exactly the same model as the other ones but they feel slightly (and infuriatingly) too big. Could it be the colour? Are yellow things bigger than red things? I don't know! I'll give them one more run with an extra insole and then decide.
- whether the ash cloud from the Chilean volcano will even let us get to Queensland next week. In some ways it's be a relief but let's not hop on that train.
- why I am beating myself up so badly lately. Yes, I'm disappointed that the 2.5kg I painstakingly whittled away over 5 weeks has been regained in 2, but this Does Not Mean that I am a slack lazy spineless disgusting cow who has Ruined Everything with her gluttony. It means that I will have to a) carry more lard than I wanted to around the course next week when I'm worried about making the cutoff, le sigh, and b) concentrate harder on what I eat and drink if I am to carry less lard around the next 42.2. It also means that I must dig out that useful tome "I am not my thoughts: Wrangling the negative self-talk monster" and start practicing again.
But LBTEPA, cry my five faithful readers, can all be shrouded in doom and gloom? What do you know?
I know the LBTEPA Way, my friends. That's what I know. So The Plan Is This:I don't care whose mojo, I'll get some from somewhere....
More anon, my treasures!
(photo is from Randy Marthins' FB album Postcards from the curb)

Friday, June 24, 2011


I was going to have a blah blah blah wallow in self-loathing about how I'm forty-four for F#$%'s sake, I'm too old to be diving into a plate of salt and pepper squid and too many bubbles no matter how upsetting a day was, no wonder I haven't lost much weight blah blah blah, subtext "encourage me! Cheer me up! Tell me it's all ok and keep trying! "
But that's bullshit. It was a horrid day. J was extremely worried and upset by something that happened at his work. We defaulted to our dysfunctional stress response. I didn't live up to my own standards and I feel miserable now.
But know this, my friends: the best thing about yesterday is that it's gone. The best thing about today is that we get another go at doing things better.

More anon, horizon-gazers!
Photo is from Randy Marthins' FB album Postcards from the curb

Monday, June 20, 2011

12 days

~In which LBTEPA learns that some people will never get it~
The other day at church, someone I know asked me how the marathon training was going. I mentioned the Great Niggly Hip Freakout and she replied, oh, any excuse to get out of running.

*insert gobsmacked silence*

In other, less bewildering news, there are less than two weeks to go until Very Slow Marathon #4. Flights, hotel and car are booked and paid for. The pre- and post-race dos are organised. The new shoes are being run in. That familiar, distracting, slightly sick feeling at the thought of spending the better part of a working day sweating for a(n admittedly awesome) bit of bling is back; LBTEPA's nearest and dearest are being kind, which is good.
The obligatory taper headcold is also having a red-hot go at settling in but I am fighting back with sleep, veggies, vitamin C, panadol, and the Best Sinuses Money Can Buy. If all else fails, my doctor now has a letter from my surgeon along the lines of give her the damn antibiotics you idiot.
Panic-merchant LBTEPA is of course Freaking Out (it is taper time, after all) about not getting all the runs done but Zen LBTEPA is consoling her with the thoughts that a) all the Long Runs got done Woot! Woot! Yay!!! and b) this winter has not been marred by never-ending Bastard Sinus and Chest Infections - training has, in fact, been quite consistent overall.
My weight is giving me the irrits. Despite actually concentrating on what I'm eating and drinking far more than interests me, it's more erratic than would even be explained by Female Stuff. Given that I am getting on a bit I think I might go and have all those annoying Female Stuff-type checks when we get home, as well as the Bastard Thyroid too It'll turn on you as soon as look at you, that one.
I've been giving a lot of thought to The Playlist (see "distracted", above). I make a new one for each marathon - doesn't that sound grand? I still find it hard to get my head around the fact that I've done three already! - for exactly the cutoff time. Six and a half hours of No Worries Darl, Just Keep Going and You'll Get There. The following faves list provides (a possibly disturbing) insight into LBTEPA's Happy Little World of Running.*
Deborah Conway - It's only the beginning
Marcia Hines - I've got the music in me
Paris Wells - Let's get it started
Grease soundtrack - Greased lightning (describes me so accurately ROFL)
Theory of a deadman - I hate my life
Joey Scarborough - Believe it or not
Big Bad Voodoo Daddys - I wanna be like you
Janis Joplin - Take another piece of my heart
Skyhooks - Livin' in the 70's
Barney Stinson - The awesome song
Harry Secombe - Battle hymn of the republic
Flogging Molly - Worst day since yesterday
De-lovely soundtrack - Blow Gabriel blow, and of course
Anastasia - Paid my dues
That's probably enough for now, even for my five faithful readers, bless your tolerant hearts. What are your 100% reliable, solid gold firing-up tunes?
More anon, boogie-meisters!
*They're all on Yotu&e but I'm too lazy to link them, sorry.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


I told you the taper madness had set in early. I pulled up a bit sore from my EPIC long run on Monday (they're all epic, just ask me) and just trundled around my mid-week run yesterday morning.
Just to digress, as you do - how cool is it when you actually manage to string together a few weeks of consistent training and not get sick or busy or injured *makes warding-off-evil-eye gesture*, and you get fitter? I love how that works!
So anyway, there I was, a bit sore in the glutes and quads and taking stairs a teeny bit carefully. Nothing dramatic. But by late afternoon my left hip - not the hip that got all crabby after I had Noddie and has required extensive mollycoddling ever since, not the one I expect to crack it with me, nooo, not that one - was whingeing big time. Ow ow ow. As is the LBTEPA way, I did The Sensible Thing. I stretched that hip, stretched it like Gumby I did, and iced it and gave it ibuprofen.
As also is the LBTEPA way, I FREAKED OUT. Someone I actually know (Hi Katy!) "toughed out" hip pain and ran the Hawaii marathon with a FEMORAL NECK FRACTURE that's REALLY BAD, btw. She hasn't run since! Clearly, I was also suffering from a femoral neck fracture!! And unless I let go of my long-held dream of conquering the Gold Coast (the LBTEPA way includes overdramatising as a free service) this was clearly also my future!!! Not to mention wasting thousands of dollars in airfares and becoming morbidly obese within days!!!!Aaarrgghhh!!!!!
The management of the LBTEPA Hostel for the Temporarily Insane would like to thank the kind physio at the clinic where our heroine works for pointing out that a tight iliotibial band was a far better fit for the symptoms described, for suggesting a number of excruciating yet helpful exercises in order to loosen said area, and for not laughing too much.
Taper madness is a cruel affliction and one we should be aware of for our own and others' sakes. Other symptoms include
- obsessively reading and re-reading marathon books and blogs
- obsessive daily weighing and plunging into gloom at how much lard I will be carting around
- overt hostility toward any individual who might be harbouring germs
- actually paying money to do this. OhdearohdearohdearwhatwasIthinking?
- really thinking hard about buying one of these (the hoodie, not the bloke although he is a bit of all right)
There is very little that can be done for the sufferer other than making soothing sounds when s/he appears agitated, allowing her/him to watch Marathon Challenge and Run Fatboy Run over and over again, and taking his/her credit card away.
More anon, wanderers in the poppy fields!

Monday, June 13, 2011


Last long run = 32.5km along the rail trail in the drizzle.
15 minutes faster than last week = maybe I'll make the cutoff after all
Thanks to Mum for company for the last 6km.
Thanks to J for getting the ice,

for the note on the fridgeand for the pie afterward. Mmmmmmmm!
I can feel some knitting by the fire coming on......zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz..............

stupid o'clock

It's stupid o'clock on a public holiday. J is snoring softly, as I expect is Noddie after our Big Trip to Melbourne for my nephew's engagement party on Saturday night. It's about 3 degrees outside, and foggy. I have a camelbak, my 1p0d and some gloves and I AM GOING TO DO THIS LAST LONG RUN.
More anon, putters-on of brave faces!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Fascinating running minutiae

I find it very interesting and I think about it a lot. At this stage in a marathon "campaign", if you will pardon the conceit, I think about it to the exclusion of almost all else. Four weeks to go means it is almost the end of the "build" - there is only one long run left. I can see the taper, ah, the blessed blessed taper, from here. Mind you when I get into the taper I usually hate it because I get very worried and irritable and very hungry. I've worked quite hard this winter to shed a bit of lard so I can start this marathon at close to the same weight I was last year.
A digression: this whole weight loss thingy is is a constant philosophical conundrum for me. I believe that weight does not equal attractiveness, character or worth. I am a constant (and strident, ask anyone) advocate for health measures based on actual health (eg blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, resting heart rate) rather than a lazy-arsed bullshit extrapolation - I'm talking to YOU, BMI - based on specious correlations and society's desire for an outgroup that it is politically correct to vilify. GGGGRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR (see "strident", above).
But then again, go and pick up something that weighs 4.5kg, the amount of weight I gained after my sinus operation last summer. Then think about carrying it 42.2km when if you cut out a few unnecessary and relatively unnoticeable kilojoules - I'm talking to YOU, extra helpings and too much wine - you wouldn't have to. I worry about being hypocritical, but my feet are thanking me after my long runs.
Segueing neatly back to running did you see that?, I've been reading the Best Book EverI'm aware that it's been criticised as only suitable for dilettante non-respecters of the distance and that no Proper Runner would dream of toeing the line with fewer than eight days or 1000km/week under his or her belt. The program is specifically for first-timers and there's heaps of info about stretching (I did read about that somewhere before I think, I forget), nutrition, injury prevention etc etc. They're mad for mantras and I have been trying some out. These days keen observers on the rail trail might hear amongst the rushing river and birdsong a puffed and panted I run tall (reminding me to lengthen my spine and not slump forward), I run loose (reminding me to drop my shoulders and use my core), I run strong, I run straight. The last one is because if I don't pay attention my feet swing in arcs like an ice skater instead of a nice efficient straight line. I had a lightbulb moment about this the other week. When one is blessed with substantial knee and thigh acreage such as that which I possess, and you want your feet to go in a straight line, your knees must touch while you run! *slaps forehead* Well dip me in axle grease and call me slick, eh?
The main theme of the book is that the only way to fail-proof your first marathon - and who wants to fail after you've covered 42.2km? - is to not have a time goal. I like this. The assumption, though, is that if you've hung one piece of marathon bling around your neck and get all fired up for more, you'll want to go faster.
I've been thinking about this, and have come to the conclusion that I don't want to do it that way. It suits me much better to approach every marathon as though it's my first. In a way, each one is, because I've had massively different stuff going on for each one. Time goals (apart from make the cutoff) don't fit in with my other marathon goal, don't spend four months (plus race day) freaking out. Taper insanity is excluded from this of course. I went there a bit early this time - yesterday I completely changed my nutrition and hydration strategy (it worked beautifully btw). I know! Madness! And I'll be breaking in some new shoes this week too!
More anon, daredevils!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Here's to the future

For once, the fascinating daily minutiae at Casa del LBTEPA is not about DRAMAS or PRESSURE or just-managing-to-pull-off-the-almost-impossible-at-the-last-minute. I've got some work to do on my last stats assignment, I'm a bit behind with my case notes and there are two long runs to be got through before VSM#4 ohsitohshitohshitwe'reallgoingtodie. But at this stage it appears that if I keep plugging along and avoid anyone who might harbour a lurgi there will be time for it all. It's a nice change from frantically squeezing it all in around my primary duties of spousing, mumming*, working etc etc.
In other news:
The Spousal Unit did one of those workplace health checks, and his results were Not All They Should Be. His waist-to-hip ratio, blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure only just squeaked in under the Get Thee to a Quack Forthwith range. I am quite pleased by this, in a way. Unlike my good self, most of my family and the majority of my friends, the Spousal Unit does not actively manage his health, diet, exercise etc. He has always had active jobs and relied on that to keep him in good nick. He doesn't like being careful about food - does anyone? I don't, but it's one of the things I'm prepared to suck up on my way to being a mad old lady who does crazy energetic things. This is a major long-term goal of the LBTEPA Corporation, and what's more I don't intend to do it alone.
But I digress. I was quite pleased by J's Slightly Alarming health results because finally, finally, instead of chirruping you need to look after your health over and over like a demented parrot, I can say you need to look after your health BECAUSE....and wave the results sheet in his face . Oh frabjous day!!
Working out the right exercise for the Spousal Unit was a bit of a puzzle. J walks all day at work, on concrete, so he wants to sit down afterwards, which is fair enough. He is a homebody who works stupid hours so he doesn't really want to go to the pool or the gym either. He loves watching tv as well. Clearly an exercise bike was the answer! Sitting down + tv + regular cardio = happy J and happy LBTEPA.
JFDI is the LBTEPA Way, as my five faithful readers know, so we went out last Friday and bought him a bike. It was really funny. We tried all the equipment in the shop and took so long about it that when J remarked that we didn't need to actually buy anything, we could just pop in there every lunchtime for a workout, I think the young sales person thought he meant it! We spent a bit on the thing but I justified it as about the cost of a couple of specialist visits in a few years if he doesn't do anything now. It has beepy buttons and readouts and a heart-rate thingy and a comfy seat and weighs a ton (but is on wheels) and I had to completely reorganise my study to fit it in but I was going to do that anyway so it's all good.
J loves it. He does his workouts every day and writes them all down and seems to be sleeping better and feeling more cheerful. I may be imagining these things as it's only been a week. I'm very happy anyway.More anon, long-range forecasters!
*I actually meant parenting, although I'm not averse to a bit of medieval seasonal play-acting should the opportunity arise