Sunday, March 28, 2010

Race Report: Unexpected, Jet-lagged, 10 km turned 5 km

The race wasn't actually called that, because what weirdo (other than me) would turn up for a race like that? This week-end I was supposed to be running a hilly 12.3 km race in Italy but I unexpectedly wound up back in Canada in my hometown. So I signed up for a 10 km I have done many times before only the city workers were on semi-strike so the race organizers reduced the course to a 1 mile loop to make it easier to close the roads and reduced the 10 km to a 5 km. Hence my unofficial name for this race.

I asked one of my friends if they could watch baby for 17 minutes and 59 seconds while I ran my race which gives you an idea of my goal. Race morning proved very cold and extremely windy and I immediately revised the goal to 18:20. The race was unfortunately women only (unfortunate because this meant there were fewer people to hide behind). I haven't been racing on the Montreal scene for awhile so I was surprised when a group of girls went out like banshees at the beginning. They looked young and so I figured it was youthful exuberance and they would soon fade. I ignored them and did my own thing and went through the first km in 3:41 (18:25 pace). To give them credit, the youngsters really hung in there. I ran the 2nd and 3rd km in 3:35 each and finally passed them between 3 and 4 km (3:39). I told one girl who looked to be about 15 to tuck in behind me, stay right behind me and use me to block the wind. She tried... but she had just gone out way too fast and fell back. So frustrating because she wound up running 18:55... I am SURE she could have run the same time as me or faster had she just run it a bit smarter but racing savvy comes with experience and they will catch on, in the mean time this bunch of girls ran some impressive times!

Anyway at 4 km I was at 14:33 and felt pleased because I knew I would definitely meet my revised goal of 18:20. Then something strange happened: I realized I felt AWESOME. Strong. Not tired at all. I picked it up with the hope of running sub-18:10. I came around the last corner onto a 400 m final stretch. In the last 100 m I could see the clock and it was only at 17:40 and I realized with a big kick I could break 18:00. Somehow I managed to run the last km in 3:22 (!) and finished with a 17:55.8. I am really pleased and excited. This is my 5th fastest time ever and only 19 seconds slower than my PB. I am feeling optimistic that I WILL conquer my arch rival again. So much fun to run faster than expected. Makes up for all those times when the opposite happens. Final splits: 3:41, 3:35, 3:36, 3:39, 3:22.

p.s. After the race the young girl I told to draft off of me came up to thank me, she was so sweet. I told her that I am looking forward to being beaten by her and I meant it sincerely (as long as she is beating me because she is running faster, not because I am running slower).

p.p.s. If you have not yet submitted a prediction for Sea Leg Girl's marathon in the Marathon Prediction Contest, please do so by commenting on this post.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Calling All Fans of Sea Legs Girl

As regular readers of Sea Legs Girl's blog, you are aware that in the past year she has given up junk mileage in favour of a structured training program set out by SR. The plan, by her own admission, has paid off huge and she is setting personal bests (PBs) all over the place - she recently set TWO PBs in one race! On May 23rd she will run the Copenhagen Marathon on a flat, fast, snow-free course without a baby jogger and without (hopefully) having run a million miles, or done a marathon swim the week before, she even promises to have her shoelaces tied. How fast can she run? I invite you take part in the SLG Marathon Prediction Contest. Legal, Italian performance enhancing drugs to be awarded to the winner (mmmmm pocket coffee).

The rules are as follows:

1. The winner is the contestant whose score is the smallest, the score is first determined by the absolute value of the difference between the contestant's guess and the time SLG runs e.g. if a contestant guesses 3:10:00 and SLG runs 3:09:30 that contestant's score is 30. Equally if SLG runs 3:10:30, that contestant's score is also 30. After the initial score is determined, some time bonuses and penalties are applied as described in the subsequent rules.

2. Each contestant may guess up to a maximum of five times where each subsequent guess replaces the last however every time a contestant changes a guess there is a 5 second penalty applied to their score e.g. if a contestant guesses 3:10:00 on their 5th guess and SLG runs 3:10:00, that contestant's score is 25.

3. To add an element of strategy, for every day IN ADVANCE of the marathon that a person guesses, they are given a 1 second bonus e.g. if someone guesses 20 days in advance of the marathon, 20 seconds will be subtracted from their score. can wait until SLG has run her 50 km and her half marathon to gather more information but waiting has its disadvantage. Note that the time bonus is applied to the contestant's FINAL guess only.

4. Contestants may guess the same time.

5. In the event of a multiple winners, a maximum of three prizes will be awarded where precedence is given in order of the date of a contestant's first guess.

6. SLG & family MAY participate.

Post your guesses by commenting on this post.

Before submitting your guess you may want to review her last marathon, her progression, her recent feat of two PBs in one race, and a not-too-shabby recent long run.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My arch rival

Though the pleasures and rewards of running are many and varied, I have to admit that my greatest pleasure used to be beating this one particular girl. She's always at the same races as me and I used to beat her all the time. Lately however she is pulling away from me, actually her performances are constant; I am falling back. I have my excuses lined up: she's four years younger than I am, she didn't have two years of trying to conceive and then a pregnancy and then a C-section, she trains harder, more consistently and more intelligently than I do. Regardless, there are huge implications if I can no longer beat her: it means that my fastest times are behind me which means that I can no longer achieve my fundamental goal as a runner. Because, you see, that girl is me... four years ago. In 2006/2007, I set personal bests in every distance from 5 km to the marathon. Those performances were deeply satisfying to me because ultimately I run to see how fast I can drive my body to go and it was a thrill to be along for the ride as my body went faster than ever before.

Fast forward four years. My training times are slower. My races are slower. I am still riding the post-pardum excuse but after this spring season I no longer think that excuse will be valid. I might have to face the fact that at 35, I may never be as fast as I was. As an aside, I don't think it is because I am 35, I think under the right circumstances runners can continue to improve well into their forties and even fifties if they have started running later in life. In my case though, I have 20 years of pounding on my legs and my current personal bests were achieved with arduous training and laser-like focus. I don't forsee having the time nor perhaps the drive to train even harder than I did in 2006/07 to reap the benefit of new personal bests.

Which leaves me wondering, if my biggest motivator for training and racing is no longer viable, why run? I can think of tons of reasons from the vain: stay thin(ish), to the more profound: running is my identity and my community, to the obvious: I just really, really love it. But I have to admit, without being able to beat myself, it feels like something is missing. One souvenir I really wanted to take home with me after this year in Italy was a personal best run on Italian soil (well I am definitely going to run a personal best over 12.3 kilometers next week-end :) - but I wanted a PB in one of the standard distances).

My goal race, a half marathon on a very fast course, is in seven weeks. This will probably be my best chance to beat my current personal best before I return to work. In a sense this race will define my running from now on. Will I still be striving to run faster than I ever have before or will I be seeking other, more subtle rewards?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Colour me surprised: I enjoy housework.

Being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) involves a lot of repetition. Poopy diaper changed to clean diaper becomes poopy again. Dirty laundry is washed, hung on the line, folded, put away only to become dirty laundry again (often annoyingly balled up on the bedroom floor). Dinner is eaten leaving dirty dishes behind, the fridge devoid of recently purchased groceries and twenty-four hours later, dinner must be eaten again. Floor vacuumed, floor gritty again. Baby washed, baby eats therefore baby dirty. Baby fed, baby hungry again. Garbage taken out, garbage full again. Everyone knows that the life of a stay-at-home mom is fraught with repetition. Well, let's face it, repetition is part of most people's lives. Run 110 km in a week, overnight Sunday becomes Monday and BOOM! suddenly the bedraggled runner has run 0 kilometers that week.

I was always excited to change jobs this year from writing software to being a SAHM. I knew I would love the being-with-baby part of it. I did not relish all the other aspects of being a SAHM. The non-baby aspects: the cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry etc. etc. I am flummoxed to find myself enjoying all of these repetitive tasks and I think I have put my finger on why. It comes down to the same reason (well one of the many reasons) I love running: healthy correlation between time invested and result. There are so many aspects of my life where time invested BARELY correlates with the result. Take my old job, I can spend hours trying to code a solution to a problem and have literally nothing to show for it. Take another one of my passions, creative writing, same deal. I can stare at a blank screen for hours and at the end of it all have exactly that, a blank screen. With running however there is a very healthy correlation between the amount of time invested and any quantifiable result one wishes to measure: number of kilometers run, race results etc. Similarly I know if I invest 5 minutes I can take out the garbage or the recycling or diaper the baby. 20 minutes and I'll have a clean kitchen or a bathed baby or a clean floor or folded laundry. An investment of 40 minutes nets me a home cooked meal or groceries in the fridge. Yes it is transient. Yes I'll have to do it again the next day (or depending on the task the next hour) but that doesn't change the fact that I accomplished a concrete result. It lets me cross something off the list until next time. It is analogous to logging those kilometers on the spreadsheet. There's something to be said for a strong correlation between time invested and result achieved.

Stick a fork in me, I'm done.

25 km today and 111.15 km for the week. Oufa. This week was a bit of a gamble. I took a chance in increasing my mileage by far more than the standard 5% per week and, riskier, increased my quality mileage at the same time (9.2 km of aerobic intervals, 10 km of lactate threshold). I feel tired but not injured or over-trained so I think/hope the gamble paid off. However I think my original plan of going up to 115 km for next week is too much of a gamble and will instead back off before building up again. 7 weeks to the goal race.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The other side of living here

A few weeks ago I posted a few of the many, many reasons I love living here and have since updated this list as I realize I did not nearly do justice to the many wonderful things about our adopted hometown. Now for the other side of living here...

1. You're not from here: Yes. We are xenophobic in Canada too. Our national newspaper just ran an article detailing how "ethnic" Canada will be by the year 2031 and talking about the challenges inherent to that. Meanwhile in my home province of Quebec a woman was just expelled from a government funded language course for refusing to remove her hijab (apparently it conflicted with their "pedagogical goals"). But I do find the xenophobia more apparent here (perhaps they are just more honest about it?). Seemingly every night or so on the news there are stories about "stranieri". My Italian isn't great so maybe these stories are about how immigrants are improving life here... but I don't think so. There are ominous organized protests by neo-nazi looking youngsters carrying flags that probably NOT coincidentally resembled swatiskas waving signs reading "Bilingulismo mai!" (Bilingualism never!). The mayor of one Italian town even tried to have a minimum income level as a pre-requisite to applying for residency in his town (this was struck down by the courts). Our acquaintances here tell us that we are not the sort of stranieri about which there is concern; what a warm and fuzzy feeling that DOESN'T give me!

2. Sexism: Let me preface this by saying I am not particularly sensitive to sexism. I can honestly say that I have never felt personally discriminated against based on gender and I have been often called out by friends and family for not being feminist enough. If I perceive sexism, it has to be pretty blatant. Blatant like television shows (such as the Italian equivalent of Wheel of Fortune) having women as purely decorative objects. Yes, yes, Vanna White, I know, but this is a whole different ballgame. The show features camera shots DIRECTLY down the woman-as-decorative-object's top into her cleavage, directly up between her inner thighs. At 7.00 pm! On what I can only gather is a family channel. Woman as decorative object is such a widespread and standard practice that there is a word for these women: velina, which translated means tissue paper. Their role is to smile, be sexy and SAY NOTHING. They are truly women objects: wobjects. The most frightening aspect of wobjects is its message to the younger generation (and apparently there is a trend towards little girls aspiring to become velina): women are valued for being sexy, decorative and saying nothing.

3. Health Care: In my post on the aspects of life I value here, health care topped the list however there are aspects of it I find alarming as well. The style of health care is too non-interventionalist for my taste. I agree that North Americans have an over-medicated, pill-popping culture and that a huge number of medical problems could be prevented if we were to get off the couch, take a walk, get more sleep and eat healthily. That being said, I feel that modern medicine is sometimes overlooked here. As an example, epidurals are often withheld from women who request them during childbirth for ridiculous reasons: didn't fill out the paperwork ahead of time, didn't have a bloodtest ahead of time to be sure an epidural would work (HUH???), will slow down the labour (I count this as a ridiculous reason b/c although epidurals can slow down labour, in this instance the woman had been induced and had been labouring for 2.5 days and was in agony). To me this smacks of authoritarianism with perhaps a tinge of subscribing to the biblical edict that women shall give birth in pain.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

When does mileage become junk mileage?

I'm tired. Very, very tired. The problem with goals is that it is one thing to plan a progression of mileage: 110 km, 115 km, 90 km weeks but quite another to carry it out. I have run 52.6 km this week and so have 57.4 more km to go. I do believe in the importance of volume for getting into shape but I don't believe in running junk miles. When does mileage become junk mileage? I felt like I was running junk mileage today because my legs were heavy, tired and generally I did not feel like I was running a recovery run. On the other hand I really do think I need a couple of weeks over 100 km to get where I need to be. I have two work-outs (6 X 1 km and 8 X 400m) and a long run to do this week. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I get my legs back for them.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Best road race prize EVER!

I think I mentioned in another post that Italian prizes for races are amazing, useful, fun. I have won huge bags of groceries. I once got a bottle of wine and a box of cookies JUST FOR returning my chip! Thanks for coming out! Have some wine! But yesterday I found out about a prize at an upcoming road race that really takes the cake (speaking of cake, that's what I got at provincial XC Champs a few weeks back). Ok, first let me explain how one goes about winning the prize. It is awarded to the person who LOWERS their age category time relative to last year's winner in their age category by the largest margin. I think it is really interesting because it combines fast running and dumb luck. Obviously one has to run fast to win their age category BUT one also has to be lucky to be in a category that had a soft time the previous year. So... what is the prize? An all-expenses paid trip to the London Marathon in 2011!! I suddenly find myself way more motivated for this race. I was not too fired up for it before because it is a hilly 12.3 km which is such a random distance BUT I could get excited about London 2011 (please don't interpret that as a cocky statement that I think I am going to win... but a girl can dream). I have the dumb luck part covered b/c last year's 35-39 winning time is soft relative to the other age categories. As for the fast running part of it, we'll see. At least I know I will run a personal best for 12.3 km :)

Daily Double

I did something I haven't done in awhile, I ran twice. Nothing makes me feel more motivated than running twice in one day, plus it's a great way to sneak in some more miles towards the weekly goal. I did 6.4 km easy this morning followed by 15.5 tonight which included a 10 km tempo in 39:03. This means I only have 71.1 km to go this week. With a 25 km long run and one day off, I only have to average 15.4 km on the other 3 days. Totally doable!

Monday, March 8, 2010

A few of my favorite things about living here

1. The healthcare. I can only speak for the region (and perhaps really only the province) in which I am living but I have been truly impressed by some aspects of the healthcare here. Some things I find downright amazing, for instance, if you call a doctor's office, the doctor picks up the phone! And will actually talk to you! I have avoided trucking myself and baby down to the office and waiting in the waiting room with a few quick conversations. Public health policy here seems really advanced. The other day I got a letter in the mail saying that as part of a new campaign, an appointment had automatically been made for me to have a pap smear and all I had to do was show up.

2. My pediatrician: Baby's appointments have been fabulous experiences. They start with the doctor putting baby on the table, looking into her eyes and saying "She's wonderful." Pause. "She's really, really wonderful". What mom doesn't love to hear that? From an expert no less. The appointment typically lasts 30 minutes or more and includes things such as breast feeding coaching and advice on how and when to give solids. Really detailed advice. I brought baby in one time with a throat infection and slight difficulty breathing. The doctor assessed her, made some suggestions, told me not to worry and sent me on my way. I was completely stunned to get a phone call from her at 9 am the next morning just to see how baby was doing... and then again the following day! Ok... so maybe I was just lucky to randomly score a rock start pediatrician (the other moms here tell me this is not really the norm) but my pediatrician remains in the list of top 10 things I love about living here.

3. The love affair with babies: The stereotype is absolutely true. Italians love babies. I mean they REALLY.... LOVE... BABIES. It is not uncommon for me to be stopped 2-3 times during a quick trip to the supermarket so that Random Person On the Street can admire baby. In fact one of the first sentences I learned in Italian was: "Quanto tempo ha?" (how old is she?). I also quickly learned the words: carina! amora! stella! oh deo! I sometimes feel like I am walking around with a famous movie star i.e. baby is the movie star, I am the anonymous best friend. The love affair is not limited to women over a certain age. Baby has been admired by old & young, men & women, toddlers & teens. The only demographic group that seems somewhat immune to baby love is adolescent males.

4. The countryside: oh, it's glorious. Just glorious. And this, I think, is certainly not limited to the region/province where we live. Italy is sea carved coasts and sun drenched granite and wind-carved evergreens and pastoral mosaics. Last week-end we discovered a whole canyon just minutes by car from where we live. There is was, hiding out, just waiting to be discovered. Walking into this canyon felt like slipping down the rabbithole into Wonderland only without the weirdo psychodelic stuff. No. Scratch that. It felt like walking into Narnia.

5. Demographic mixture. My perception is that people here tend to associate with a mixture of ages. Walking around in the evening, one sees groups of people that range in age from babies to the elderly. The only other place I have had this experience has been in any running community which I feel also tend to promote demographic mixture (minus of course the babies).

6. Warm & Welcoming nature of the people. Prior to moving here, one of our acquaintances who is from this city expressed the opinion that its habitants have the tendency to be stand-offish to outsiders and it is difficult to "break in" to the community so to speak. This was very unwelcome news to a girl who thrives on having social networks. I feel very fortunate to be able to say that i have found the exact opposite to be true. The two spheres in which I tend to move i.e. mommies & runners have been so warm, generous and welcoming to me. The runners have invited me to races, training runs, helped me navigate the bureaucracy of racing here and been so encouraging and generally supportive. The mommies I have met (through a local health/community type center) have gone out of their way to include me in various informal activities. I am lucky to know these kind, funny, patient women and thrilled to know their babies.

7. Reduced environmental impact. That is my perception anyhow. I feel that there are many practices here that result in a more environmentally friendly way of life. These practices are very matter-of-fact i.e. there is no hooplah about saving the planet - they are just quietly done. Examples: it is very rare for people here to have clothes dryers - they use wind & sun, parking is ridiculously hard to come by (that's what happens when the city was settled before the car was invented!) so people use public transport and walk, public spaces are often not heated or air conditioned and while this is admittedly uncomfortable on occasion it is an earth friendly practice, there is often no hot water in public restrooms (again uncomfortable but earth friendly), recycling here is light years ahead of my home town (but alas no public composting).

8. The cheese. Oh this deserves an entire blog entry in and of itself. Let me start by saying it is, of course, delicious. And cheap (at least compared to where I come from). And varied. And, best of all, NOT bright orange! We have so many left to try, I don't know if 5 months will be enough time. As a sidenote: I was completely shocked to find both philadelphia cream cheese and processed cheese singles in plastic wrap in our local grocery store the the day. Supply implies demand. Who is demanding these products when there are fresh mozarellas, ricottas, smoked everythings... it boggles my mind!

9. The serving sizes. One of my greatest failings is that I tend to eat a whole package of whatever once the package is opened. The snack food here comes in reasonable serving sizes which I greatly appreciate.

10. The non-proliferation of diet foods. Diet foods make people fatter. Far better to eat a small quantity of the real, full-fat version than to eat massive quantities of the skinnied down version. As a sidebar - Diet Coke costs an arm and a leg here whereas sparkling water is dirt cheap. This has rapidly cured me of my very unhealthy diet coke addiction. Thanks Italian food culture!

11. Separation of payment from service provision. In many instances here, one pays for a good or service completely separately from receiving the good or service. Sounds like a strange thing to enjoy but let me give you my favorite example. People here do not pay the bus driver. The bus driver does not care one whit whether you have a ticket. All the bus driver does is drive the bus. Inspectors will randomly get on the buses and ask to see your ticket. If you don't have one you pay a 15 euro fine. Why is this great? It means that bus drivers just focus on driving the bus unlike in Montreal where they must process each person who gets on the bus. Is this tranfer valid? Did that person put enough money in the fare box? Does that picture on the bus pass REALLY look like that person? When something is amiss, the entire bus load of people sits fuming while the bus driver argues with the inevitably hostile passenger who is trying to pass off a day old transfer as still valid. Or else the driver starts driving while still arguing with said passenger thus endangering the lives of everyone on the bus. Personally I think a BUS DRIVER should only have to DRIVE A BUS. In general this separation of service from payment means that people are focussing on their epxertise i.e. providing service X while someone else worries about the financials. It's efficient. It makes for better service. It reduces the possibility of corruption.

12. The little mysteries. Ok, this is generally true of living in any foreign country... the little mysteries of hte nuances of life that take awhile to figure out. Today, for example, I went to the bakery to buy bread. The bakery was open and had many delicious deserts that had been baked that day available for sale but... no bread that I could see. I asked the woman behind the counter for bread and she looked at me incredulously and said "It's Sunday! No bread on Sunday!". I felt like I was asking why objects fall when dropped and she was replying: "Gravity! It pulls things to the earth!". So, I have no idea if this is a city-wide phenomenon, a peculiarity of this bakery, some aspect o Catholicism I have long forgotten... but I am enjoying the mystery.

110 kilometer week

A funny thing happened while racing the past three week-ends in a row. I got out of shape. I think. The problem is that I tapered for all three races. The two xc races were important for my club so I tapered for those and the half marathon was important to me so I tapered for that and the end result was 3.5 weeks of reduced volume, quality and long runs. Now I find myself 8 weeks away from my most important goal race for the spring/summer, the local half-marathon, and I am not quite where I need to be fitness wise. I also have no plan. I have been essentially deciding what to do on a day by day basis with the general guidelines of getting one lactate threshold (tempo run/intervals) and one VO2 max session in per week and running at least 80 km. This has to change, I need to plan the next 8 weeks including what work-outs I will do, how long my long runs will be and what my mileage pattern will look like. While I am working on that, I have set the (somewhat arbitrary) goal of running 110 km this week with a long run of 25 km. That would have been an easy week back when I was marathon training. These days it constitutes a challenge. In fact it will be my biggest week since before I was pregnant. If I want to take one day off (and I do) this means averaging 17 km for 5 days plus my long run. Today's 17 km run has already been put to bed. 93 km to go...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How to run with a baby

Well, first you have to find a safe and comfortable position in which to hold the baby. I used to put her on my shoulders but I found that branches from the shrubs lining the sidewalk would scratch her face so now I tuck her under my arm... yes, I'm kidding. Bad joke. But I am serious in that before I had said baby, I was curious to know the logistics of how running mommies well... run. So I thought I would share how I get my mileage (typically 70-100 km per week) in as a running mommy. I have four options (which is way more than I had as a childless working gal!).

Option 1: Get up obscenely early & run before hubby leaves for work. This is actually my favorite b/c I am usually up for a 5.00 am feed anyhow so it is not very onerous to head out the door rather than heading back to bed. As a bonus it means hubby spends alone time with baby when she is at her most cheerful. Fun for him, fun for her & less guilt for me! (see Option 2).

Option 2: Run when hubby gets home from work. I do this about once a week only b/c I have this amazing training partner who is only available to meet in the evening. His fitness level is perfectly matched to mine & the work-outs he does are compatible with my training style. As a bonus it gives me the chance to practice my Italian (though his English is perfect so if I get too oxygen deprived, I can switch languages). The downside of this is that evening is baby's crankiest time. I don't want to badmouth baby because she is truly wonderful and her crankiest time is far less fearsome than my crankiest time! But when she is crankiest she wants a breast... and although I leave breast milk behind it is just not the same so I feel guilty for putting hubby in that position and depriving her of comfort.

Option 3: Bring baby along in the baby jogger. I have actually only done this twice both in the past week in other words this is about to become a regular occurrence. I wanted to wait until she was at least 6 months old and now she is 7. This is hard, hard work. Maybe I just have to get used to it? But I think baby jogging adds 15-20 seconds to each kilometer. Also I feel it deteriorates my already incredibly poor form. I still need to experiment - jogger close to body? far from body? Give jogger a push and let arms swing free for a few strides? One major downside is that the sidewalks here were so NOT designed for my honking, behemoth of a baby jogger. Clearly the makers of this jogger pictured wide stretches of deserted, suburban road. Not crowded, narrow Italian sidewalks which are the scene for much of the social life here (it seems) and also serve as back-up parking in a city which was built far before the automobile was ever thought of. Inevitably I come up behind people and say in my quiet, uncertain, shy way "permesso"... which they never hear. Then louder. Then louder. Now I am at a standstill, baby jogger wheel nipping at their ankles and finally (because I cannot seem to modulate my voice) BELLOW "PERMESSO!" at which point they turn, see the baby which then means I have to to stop for a minute or so while they coo and admire the baby (the stereotype is true... Italians of all walks of life LOVE, really really really LOVE babies). Anyway the above scenario repeats 10-20 times per run which makes it not all that efficient. Plus I feel like the ugly foreigner with my honking jogger on the sidewalk because clearly sidewalks here are used in a different way than back home and part of me thinks I should respect that and not impose my baby jogger on them. All that being said, I will continue to baby jog.

Option 4: The dreadmill. Yes I am spoiled in that I have a treadmill in my house. The plus side of this is that I don't miss baby time b/c I use it while she sleeps (mostly see below). The downside, other than the sheer mind blowing boredom... though sometimes I manage to study Italian while running on it, is my paranoia. I jump off the treadmill every 5-10 minutes to check whether baby is awake and crying b/c I cannot hear her over the motor. My PB is 12 minutes without checking on her. I have never found her crying but I have often found her awake and happily chatting to herself at which point I usually bring her into the bedroom with me and put her on our bed with some toys while I finish up. She plays, I run. Sometimes I sing... shout more than sing to be heard over the motor and that is a work-out in and of itself!

All in all I find it easier to get in mileage as a stay at home mom than I did when I was working (partly b/c my work involved way too much travel). I know the real challenge lies ahead when I am a working, running mommy.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New style of work-out

The runners I have met here seem to incorporate, as a staple in their training program, a type of work-out I have never done before and it is really growing on me. My training week typically consists of 1 session of aerobic intervals, 1 session of threshold intervals or a tempo run, 1 long run and then runs to fill in whatever my mileage goal is for the week. Pretty standard. My running companions here have added a twist to the tempo run. First, they run 8 km slightly slower than 1/2 marathon pace (only a couple of seconds slower) then without stopping, they run 2-3 more km as fast as possible. I LOVE it! First, it keeps my tempo run honest as normally I tend to run too fast during my tempo runs and then am burnt for either my long run or aerobic intervals. Second, it teaches the legs to turn-over quickly when they are already tired i.e. exactly what one needs at the end of a race. I will be incorporating this into my training plan from now on.