Saturday, 30 May 2015

Marathon Training Week...14(?)/Effed Up Dreams

Well, it's not every day that you're told that your face is in a regional newspaper.That information can make you jump to all kinds of conclusions!  Luckily, my super secret double life as a criminal mastermind/evil super villain remains a closely guarded one, and I'm in there for nice reasons.  A couple of weeks ago, I drafted an article about the running routes I was discovering on my on-foot travels around Swansea and sent it to the news website Wales Online. Because sharing is caring and all that. They kindly accepted my runwaffle and published it on their website, much to my excitement.  

Click below if you fancy a nose.  The top of the article features a very pretty and not-sweaty-at-all runner who I secretly hope readers who don't know me assume is me.  Not-me "me" is rocking the fuck out of that crop top and ponytail.

There was no mention of it leaping out of the interweb and into print in my communications with Wales online, so was quite a shock to find that the article has been renamed "Run Rebecca Run" and is now a two page feature in today's Western Mail.  Chuffed is not the word.  Seeing my name in print makes me crazy happy.  Lookit!! 

  Say whaaat?!

Of course, now that I'm a leading authority on running (and getting selfies into local newspapers), I reckon I'm going to suck it up and do the full marathon in Liverpool fo sho.  I'm feeling good about it now.  It'll hurt, but it's meant to.  I have no doubt that the experience is going to blow my fragile little mind.  I'm getting into taper territory as of next week, so I'll be reducing the mileage, which will allow for lots more time for numbing my fears with cheese and losing control of my bladder as I completely freak out about the task ahead of me.  Should be a relaxing time for myself and the poor bastards that see me every day.

Good luck, friends and family!  You can get through this.  I believe in you!

Running longer distances in training has been a lot of fun.  I've learned loads about myself.  For example, if I am tired and frustrated enough by the fact that "I've still got bloody FOUR miles to go and I'm HUNGRY NOW!!", I am not above loudly huffing "AGH, FUCK IT!!" at nothing and no one whilst out in public.  Oddly enough, it does make you feel better. I've also learned that it's at around the fifteen mile mark that I start to get insatiably snacky.  Still clinging to the fruitless hope that there will be a magical cake station at around that point in Liverpool.  That would be the dream.

If you live in Liverpool and intend to spectate on the day - Battenburg, please and thankyou.

Running aforementioned distances has also screwed with my sleeping patterns, because staving off naps for me is like trying to stop an oncoming train with a broom handle.  It's just not possible.  As a result of this, I've been having some really vivid and slightly screwy dreams.  Want to hear a few?

1.  A capella Cats

A and I return home (probably from one of our never ending "pops to the shop".  We never seem to have food in.  No idea why...)  to see all the neighbours outside their doors watching all of the neighborhood cats singing classic hit "Stand By Me" together in perfect harmony.  When they are done, there is much applause and elation.  So much so that someone sets a pre programmed fireworks display off.  As you do.

Oh, God, the blood.  There was so. Much. Blood.  The one tabby that was stuck to the Catherine Wheel will haunt me forever.  

Cheers, brain.

2.  The Roof, the Roof, the Roof is on Fire

Am at home enjoying daytime TV.  In this particular show, an interior designer surprises families by giving their homes a fancy, fancy make over.  The families are survivors of house fires, which is a really lovely idea.  Except in this one, the houses are mid collapse and a little bit still-on-fire.  The part that I was watching in the dream was where they were in the middle of "the big reveal".  The mother didn't like the olive green kitchen cupboards they were given, which is an odd thing to be focusing on when you're missing one entire outside wall, and your staircase is ablaze.  Some people seriously need to reframe their situations.  Sort it out, lady.

3.  Sugar, We're Going Down

A and I in an aeroplane, off on our hollibobs.  Hurrah!  

Lightening strikes one of the wings, causing it to snap off and sending us hurtling towards to ground at hundreds of miles an hour.  A is frozen in fear and refusing to hold my hand, which I find mildly irksome.  To placate myself, I eat some peanuts and hum "if you're happy and you know it" to myself in my head.  Turns out dream-me handles the whole plummeting towards an untimely demise thing in quite a chipper way.  Who'd have thought? 

Maybe we could learn something from that?  No matter how bad it gets, there's always snacks and a cheery sing-along to be had. Unless there are no snacks.  In which case, everything is fucked and the world is ending.  *shrug*
There have been WAY more dreams than that, but those three are the ones I recall the most clearly.  I certainly have a vivid imagination when I'm unconscious.  Small wonder I'm always so bloody knackered!  I'll be off, then.  I need a coffee and something to chew on.  T'raa!

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Marathon Training Week 12/Magic shoes!

I ran an obscene amount of miles today.  Titillating, I know.  Definitely not as sexy as it sounds though.  Twenty (mother fridge-ing TWENTY!! 2-0!!) sweaty, sweary miles were covered by my very own feet today.  I grew them myself.

It was a surprising feat (haw haw feet/  Okay), given recent roadblocks, i.e my disobedient, injury-addled body.  Naughty body.  As a result of today's little adventure, I am SO much more confident that I might actually be able to do the whole marathon distance come JuneWhich is great news for you, patient readers, because I can then move onto topics other than injuries, mileage and the kinds of food I've been stuffing into my face.

Last night, you ask?  Maoams, victoria sponge, sandwiches, crisps.  Foodstuff of the elite.  Also snacks at a housewarming gathering I attended.  Would have been rude not to.  Heaven forbid I frighten some of my closest friends by appearing to eat in moderation like a sane person.  They might have grown concerned.  It wouldn't have been the Becky they know and love. 

By love, I mean feed.   

Today, the first ten miles was a breeze (albeit a mild an elderly lady simultaneously blowing out candles and trying to keep her falsies in her mouth).  Can't say the same for the second ten (Ten two times! Ooh.  Possible cool/questionable nickname there), which was a muddle of sporadic walking and desperately clinging to a Spotify playlist heavy on the musical stylings of Wheatus and Alkaline Trio in a bid to retain just a scrap of my sanity.

 "Is my arse supposed to feel like it's on fire and about to fall off my body?!"
Also, look!  Another conveniently placed bench right on my last mile!  Thanks, bench gnomes!

Although I definitely wouldn't have called the experience "easy", it was a lot less painful than I anticipated.  The only hurtiness I endured was the usual "ow, my hamstrings. Ow my arse!" kind of aching that I've grown to expect from longer distances.  No injury-esque stabby feelings whatsoever.  It's a chuffing MIRACLE!  

I don't want to speak too soon, because for all I know,  I might wake up with the leg equivalent of lockjaw (lockleg?) tomorrow, but I believe this sudden U turn in stamina has come from a pair of trainers I got off of eBay this week.  After being taught to run on my forefoot and increase my cadence, my up-until-now beloved and battered Asics were starting to feel like a pair of squishy bricks - dragging my heels down and making my smack my feet on the floor with each step.  They're stability shoes, and heavy on the padding.  I was told they'd be the best match for me by a dude with a treadmill and a camera (running shop expert-type, not jogger specific perv.  I hope).  After today, I suspect that Mr Expert might've been just a little bit wrong.

I wouldn't encourage people to do the same thing as me, because I don't want them to hurt themselves based on my example (because I'm such a shining beacon of good habits and wellbeing the rest of the time), but I did my longest run ever today in a pair of more or less brand new shoes.  It was their fourth outing, because they only arrived on Tuesday, but hurting myself in new shoes felt like a better alternative to my usual trainers, which have started trying to kill me after just five minutes in them.  They've come close to succeeding many times.  It was a stupid idea, but I was very lucky that it went well!

 "Stellar work, feet/ghostly legs/magical shoes!"

The trainers I bought were Nike Free 5.0s, which were recommended to me during my stint in learning to run like what a Ninja does at Outcast.  Nike Frees are super bendy with minimal padding, following the barefoot running trend that's about at the moment.  And damn, them hippies is onto something!  No pain whatsoever when I run in them, because you can't slam your feet against the floor without properly hurting yourself.  Because of that, they force you to run with what feels like a more natural gait, and the biggest thing that surprised me was that it felt harder for me to get out of breath.  Probably because I wasn't wading along against a shit ton of padding with each step.  And it's weirdly pleasurable to actually know what the floor you're running on feels like.  I think I'm developing feelings for gravel.   And tarmac.  Mmm tarmac.

I need help.

Aaand that's it for this week!  I'm off to ride these endorphins all the way to the kettle for another cuppa...provided I can get back up out of this chair.  See you soon, unless I get a bad case of the aforementioned lockleg.  In which case, bring some WD40 to me, please.  And a sandwich.


Sunday, 10 May 2015

(Half...?) Marathon Training Week 11/ Irish Face

Excuse me, for I am in a slightly unstable mood.  Hovering somewhere between giddy optimism and hateful melancholy.  I look like I'm doing Dylan Moran's "Irish face":

Dylan Moran: Irish Face

Second weekend running (pun definitely not intended.  I don't know if you can call what I've been doing "running".  Hmph) where I've set out for a monster run and been let down by my own stubborn body.  Cut an 18 miler down to 4 last week and abandoned a 19 miler for 10 (better, but still...) this weekend.  My right ankle, heel, knee and under..foot...area (?!!) took in turns to have a bit of a cry at me, while my creaky old left hip spent intermittent periods going

"  Not for me.  No, thankyou. Nope."

I started training late in the first place because of my gammy foot, and have had to skip and/or shorten way more runs than I'd have liked over the past few weeks.  After today's swear-fest, I was miserable.  I don't feel anywhere near fit enough to participate in the full distance, but
  • I've told everyone and their pets that I'm going to be running a marathon, and I'm soft enough to care what people would think if I drop out, and vain enough to assume that they'd care about it.
  • I agreed to do this with a friend, who I was meant to be doing the Cardiff Half with last year before I jibbed out on that one.  I hate letting people down.
  • I stupidly named my blog Rebecca Writes and Runs , so wanging on about doing a marathon and then not doing it makes me feel like a big ole phony.
  • The only thing I have on my "to do before I'm 30 list" (making it more of a lone item than an actual list) is "run a marathon".  It's all I've thought about since Christmas.
However, I want my first marathon to be an enjoyable experience.  Hating 70% of it because I'm an un-ready mess of twinges and throbby ligaments would be totally undermining everything I love about the activity.  So, on one of the many generous limp breaks I allowed myself today, I googled the Liverpool Rock 'N' Roll FAQ page, trying to find out whether I could defer my place for another year if the worst came to worst.  

I can't.

Buuuuuuuut, I can reduce my race to the half marathon distance, which I know for a fact I can do without too much swearing and dragging one lame leg behind me.  The awesome thing is that they allow you to change your preferred distance on the day of the race, meaning that I don't have to make a decision right away.  If it came to it (and if I'm honest with myself, with only 5 weeks to go, it's looking like opting for the friendlier distance is the most likely outcome), my day would still be pretty awesome.  I wouldn't be letting anyone down, I'd still get to participate at a fantastic event, and (most importantly) I'd still get a medal.  Silver linings and that.

So I'm going to continue training along the same schedule and do as much as my body allows, but now the pressure has been lifted off me, knowing that I have a back up plan.  I might not be able to do what I set out to do this year, but a couple of years ago, I couldn't run more than a mile or two, so a half is still something Past Becky would have been quaking in her lounge wear over.  Now, it's my "easy option". 

(Rock and) roll on, Liverpool!

Saturday, 2 May 2015


Wrote this post in a notebook a little earlier on today while I was trying to hash out my annoyance with a particularly crazy-making flare-up of eczema that I can't seem to shift.  What started as a biro splurge ended up giving me a little more patience for my own body and the stellar job it's doing in not allowing me to collapse into a human bean bag with a face.  Not as much silliness as my posts are usually clogged with, but I hope you enjoy nonetheless! 

I have eczema.  Eczema is the medical term given to angry-as-fuck blotches of skin that have taken to crawling.  When it’s especially pissed off (which for me is most of the time), it sends a hot knitting needle of itchy discomfort right into the middle of your brain your brain until you can no longer fight the urge to scratch it, which, after a brief moment of sweet relief, starts the whole bastard cycle over again. 

I have very little patience for my skin’s shit.  Why does it drive me insane with the need to scratch it until it bleeds and inevitably worsens? Why can’t it just get its shit together and behave how it’s supposed to?  The rest of my organs seem to manage it just fine.  Even my poor, bullied liver.

I think that my skin knows what it’s meant to do on some level.  It’s meant to stop my inside stuff from getting out, and all the outside stuff from getting in.  And it’s meant to keep me warm.  What I get is patches of fierce burning that thicken to the point where my “protective” dermal barrier is so tough that it splits and cracks, leaving itself and me vulnerable to infection.

My skin is over zealous.  Bit like me, really.  Eager to do the best it can, it shirks caution in favour of enthusiasm.  It tries too hard, and as a result does the opposite of what it set out to do in the first place.

I’ve been thinking that I need to give my skin a break.  It has a lot of crap to contend with.  It seems only natural that a person who's sensitive to both internal and external stimuli would have equally tumultuous skin. 

I live in a world where sound is constant.  Cloying.  The white noise of my own, usually comforting living room alone can sometimes be too much on a stressful day:

Kettle, football,TV, cat mewling, cars out in the street, neighbours playing music, washing machine spinning and thumping.  All of this competes with the “should I be talking? Sitting is bad for you, you know. I ate too much. I should be writing more. I have to work tomorrow. Work was hard today.  I’m itching. I’m tired.  I’m crazy” chatter in my own head.  All the while, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Blogger and Google are all nagging at me from the animated brick in my fist.  On top of all this, I’m sinking coffee after coffee.  Nature’s famous relaxant.

It’s a wonder that this overly stimulating modern world hasn’t made festering, itchy lumps of us all.  I should be grateful that these raised and reddened bracelets circling my wrists don’t cover my whole fucking body.  My skin is doing the best it can to stay stuck to the person it’s stuck with.  Least I can do is be a little more understanding.

Thankyou, skin, you gross, red meat suit! =)

Friday, 1 May 2015

Marathon Training Week 9/ The Holy Bench

FORGIVE ME IF I SHOUT!!! I'm writing this post to the tuneful backdrop of the temporary tinnitus that I always get just before I get a cold.  I forget that no one existing outside of my own skull can hear the maddening whistling noise I'm hearing.  Sounds like a kettle boiling inside my face.  Maybe I'm secretly a teapot.  It would explain a lot.  


I'm not even going to give you a breakdown of last week's running, because what came before Sunday doesn't matter.  Fanfare, please...

...You'll have to verify whether or not there was a fanfare.  Because I CAN'T FECKING HEAR OWT!!! 

Oh, there was? 'Kay.  

On Sunday, I ran (and walked) seventeen miles.   Let me repeat that for you.  Seventeen. Miles.  On my legs and not on wheels.  Holy shit!  I can honestly say, all fucks previously given about my having to take walk breaks on most runs over a few miles have mysteriously gone poof.  Vanished.  When mileage gets to "what is actually wrong with you?  You have a driver's license!!" levels (anything over a half marathon in my eyes), it's hard to keep on caring how fast you got there.  Just actually doing it is a bizarre enough experience to make you forget.

I intended to run out and back, but found the thought of turning around halfway and returning just too depressing.  So I kept going.  All the way to the next county over, where my family fortunately live and were able to give me both bacon sandwiches and a lift home.  Hurrah lifts!  Hurrah bacon!  Here's some stuff that happened on that ridiculous day:

  • Hills.  Lots of.
  • Pubs.  Equally plentiful.  The temptation to flop down in a beer garden and sink a stranger's unguarded pint was intense.
  • Smugness.  The further I got, the more people I smirked at.  I tried giving off a "haw haw, I've run all the way from Swansea and I'm not even tired.  I do this for fun!" vibe.  In reality, I think I instilled more pity than envy.  My "proud stride" was more like a pasty legged, Quasimodo-esque shuffle.  My smirk may have looked more like trapped wind.  Less Paula Radcliffe, more Farty Hunchback.  I should put that on my race bib.
  • The poor corner shop keeper.  At about mile 13, I was out of water and STARVING, and so I burst my sweaty body through the shop of a tiny local establishment's door.  One member of staff was alone on the premises and was met by a manic, hyperventilating creature thrusting money and fistfuls of sweets at him.  Learned a lesson that day.  Pink Millions make for an awesome replacement to energy gels!  Also, pretty sure that one man in the Ammanford area may now believe that the zombie apocalypse is coming.  And it's wearing shorts.  
  • Death trap.  Much as I enjoyed the daftness of traveling that kind of distance on my own steam (and lots and lots of refined sugar), my lack of planning nearly got me squashed.  Between Swansea and Ammanford, where I ended up, there is a big 60mph stretch of road with not even a sliver of pavement.  I've never known fear like it!  Kept envisioning self tripping on a twig and having my brains squished by a passing car.  Pop!  Plan ahead, kids!
  • The Bench.  The timing of this bench's appearance was no coincidence.  The big, beardy man upstairs (God, not a pensioner I'm stowing away in the attic.  Note to self: must feed  Clive) must have witnessed my achy wobbling and though "Ew.  That needs to stop right now."  My Garmin beeped 17 (even its beep sounded more to me like an incredulous "...BEEP??") and immediately to my left was THIS wooden slatted throne.  Angels sang.  Clouds parted.  My buttocks planted.  Oh, what a feeling. 

Hark, the Herald Angels...sit.

The most exciting thing I saw all week was a nondescript bench.  Beat that, world!!  Only nine more miles and I'll have done a marathon. 

Nine more.

Just nine.  Only nine.  Oh my Gahd.  I have to run nine fucking more miles?!! Who signs up for this shit?? Oh, yeah.  Numpty over here.  Clever girl.

In other news, I dunna review for events website After Dark.  Read it if you fancy.  It's more interesting than a picture of a bench.  Promise!

Have an awesome bank holiday, UK readers!  Don't know about you, but I'm already feeling an itch that only a beer garden can scratch...