Tuesday, May 28, 2013


What, I haven't posted in nearly a month? How did that happen, yadda yadda yadda.

I know exactly how that happened. Back in early May there was some sad news at home - my grandfather passed away (he was 96. We miss him. But don't feel too bad. Not everyone gets 96 good years and four great-grand-children close by). So we were dealing with all that. Then my parents whisked my grandma off to a nice restful holiday in Bintan, and the following week my husband and I went off to New Zealand. On which more in a future post. I promise. I remembered to take photos this time.

Throughout all of this, I ran. And ran and ran. We did a four-day hike in New Zealand, where it's now closing in on winter. On the North Island where my grand-aunt lives I had a lovely run. The birds were singing, the sun was shining, I felt like I was flying, and when I looked up I'd run for an hour and a half.

It's now week 5 of 18 of my Perth marathon training. I tend to panic all the way till the last three weeks of each marathon cycle and then finally sit back, relax and let my legs do their thing. Obviously this hasn't been very effective if you judge by my previous marathon times. Which are complete rubbish. (6:18 in 2009 in Singapore. 5:15 in 2011 in Tokyo. 5:20 here last year).

Today I had a minor freak-out on poor Holly, convinced that I will never be able to run a sub-5-hour marathon, that it's not just the heat giving me issues, that despite all the training I just don't have it in me. And that I'm afraid to go all the way to Perth and find that out.

Fortunately tonight's track session was downright magical and subdued the panic a little bit. 5 x 5 minutes at 5K race pace - so just under 1km per rep. I discovered that yakking away to a friend (well, a short sentence at a time) at the start of each rep helps stop me from going out tooooo fast and imploding like I normally do. Even if she isn't really responding to me. Tonight the laps were on target - and I felt like I was flying.

The panic is still there. But at least I know where my towel is.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

One variable at a time

Yesterday and Monday I had the day off ('off' - as there is no such thing as an off-duty daily news journalist I also had a contact lunch meeting and did an interview). I managed to run 6km on Monday and go to the beach with my colleague (also off) and finish the book I was reading, and go to the track on Tuesday before my Very Long Day, which involved that meeting, the interview, and my sister's wedding-dinner food tasting (shortest and best wedding dinner I have ever been to, folks. Delicious.)

And today is a public holiday, Labour Day. Which totally explains why I'm still doing bits of work...

On Tuesday the thought that got me through my track workout was: "I would have to run an entire marathon at this pace to ever qualify for Boston." Why yes, that is my 10K race pace and the pace at which I was doing the interval set. There will be no BQing any time soon.

One variable at a time

Chatting with my colleague Serene about our lives in school reminded me of science practicals. And any good scientist knows you change only one variable at a time.

So I'm training for Perth the exact same way I trained for Stanchart: with one difference - going longer. Not a longer long run one day each week. A little bit longer every day. Nothing that much more than 10 or 12km at a go. Maybe 15 or 20 on weekends. Same pace range I always do (I am so slow that my marathon pace...IS my easy pace). But a little bit longer every day.
For Stanchart I started out at about 35km a week and worked my way up to 55km at most.
For Perth I'm starting out at 40-45 a week and working my way up to 60-70. And staying there until it's taper time.

As any scientist knows, you don't really know the outcome of your experiments in advance. You can have a good guess about what the outcome is supposed to be. But it can take years to nail down the best methods for what you want to accomplish. I have the rest of my life to play around with changing these variables for marathon training. Let's see how this works.

Weighty issues

No, I actually have no issues with my weight and never actually have - despite ten years of ballet (aka 'looking at oneself in a tiny leotard in a big mirrored studio' - somehow I was always more concerned with how high I could jump, whether I could balance on the pirouettes, etc).

Some people do though. This is called a mismatch between reality and the expectations in one's head/ imposed from outside. I especially like this wonderful, scathing commentary by a blogger I've never actually read before - 'on beach bodies and other reasons society sucks'. Thanks Holly for sharing it with me!

Some gems: "I don’t want to be the skinniest person in the cemetery. I want to be the last one to get there."

"All I’m saying is that you don’t have to get your body ready for summer, certainly no more than you should get your body ready for any other season. (*Editor's note. Except for the winter ski season if that is a thing you do, for which you really want strong quads to protect your knees. Also your core if you are doing really any sport at all in any season.) Your “bikini body” is whatever body you put a bikini on and anyone who tells you otherwise isn’t really helping you at all."

I agree with 99.9 per cent of everything she says except for one tiny mistake: assuming that skinny girls eat nothing but a lettuce leaf and a pea for lunch. (Didn't she see her own chart up top? The only thing that you can tell about a skinny person from looking at them...is that they are skinny. Not whether they have an eating disorder or are depressed or are starving themselves.)

Not that I am skinny myself (does it matter? who cares? NOBODY), but I HAVE got the 'You need to eat a burger' comments before from people who don't know me and my eating habits at all (my eating habits are my own business thanks...don't get me started on the instagram foodporn...). So judgey. I would be glad if people stopped making those sorts of comments about the way anyone looks. I'm going to have popiah at my grandmother's place now. You're all beautiful.

Workouts this week 

Friday: 5.6km recovery run
Saturday: Swam 1.2km for fun
Sunday: Ran 12.5km
Monday: 6.5km
Tuesday: Speedwork - 800/1200/1600/1200/800 at 2:10 going up and a smidgen faster on the way back down
Wednesday: 15km - 10km from home to Tanjong Beach at Sentosa and 5km for the run leg of the fun sprint tri my tri training group was putting on