Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Walking the dog & Juneathon roundup

MY FEET HURT!!!! I know exactly why - I've more than doubled my mileage from last month, up from exactly 0 the month before, but I've got a half marathon to run and can't be actually getting injured so I should take this pain as a warning. I skipped the run this morning in the hopes that a day in my running shoes but just hanging out in my office would set things right and I'd be able to run tonight. No such luck, but it's the last day of Juneathon so I can't be having a FAIL today. So instead I took the dog for a brisk (well, as brisk as you can be when your legs are less than 12 inches long) walk for about a half-hour longer than he usually gets. He was panting by the end - at least one of us was! - clearly needs to engage in a juneathon of his own.

Final Juneathon statistics:
* something active: 28/30 + 2 extra credit:

* blogging:

* runs: 10
* yoga: 12
* bikes: 7
* walks: 2
* slightly suspect things I counted for Juneathon anyway: 3 (2 walks, one really sad bike)
* days of FAIL: 2

Monday, 29 June 2009

Yoga is good for what ails me after 8 miles

A spectacular Juneathon FAIL on Saturday...I just didn't get up! and by the time I did, it was time to head off to the Hard Rock Calling festival in Hyde Park, where I proceeded to drink rather a lot of beer before the rain came down and sent us home to play Guitar Hero Metallica. Sunday I did manage to wake up in time to run 8 miles before part 2 of the festival. And what a great 8 miles it was. I planned to do 0.1 walking in every mile, which kept me feeling fresh. I have found a great greenspace to run in and got to explore the natural woodlands of England, which was really cool. Very quiet and peaceful, much nicer than the marshes where I feel completely exposed. No cows though.

And then this morning a really good yoga practice, very sweaty [must be all the toxins from 3 concerts in 3 days] but it only really took one sun salutation to get me warm. Katie kind of laid across my back in downward dog at one point, making me keep everything in alignment while working my heels down. Weird, but effective. Edited to add, because I got distracted and busy this morning: I was sooooo stiff and sore yesterday, my feet were swelling something awful and my hips were feeling the twinges of IT issues. But after this morning, I feel refreshed. My hips (well, those muscles on the outsides of them) still ache a bit, but I feel human again. Must remember that yoga and running are a good balance for one another, though I'm pretty sure running does not help my yoga.

Only one more day of Juneathon. I'm not happy to see it end, and will try to keep up for July!

Juneathons: 27/29 + 2 extra credit

Friday, 26 June 2009

Lattes: warm milk for grownups

Drank too much wine with some ex-neighbors last night and accidentally hit 'off' instead of 'snooze' this morning. Luckily I still woke up in time to get to work, if not to yoga. :( After being (rightly) berated on Twitter by JogBlog for counting today as a FAIL by 10am when I still had the whole day ahead of me I decided to take a nice long walk at lunchtime to a nearby park and do a little bit of yoga:
I did not do anything like this, I just did a few sun salutations in my work clothes. I just like this picture, which is courtesy sporkist.

Then I came back to the office to eat my lunch, which included my drink of choice: grande skinny latte (Side note, is it a bad thing if the barista in your office cafe knows your drink before you say anything?) I have one pretty regularly for breakfast, but I also use it as a calming mechanism when I'm stressed. Remember when you were a kid and would have a glass of warm milk to settle you down if you couldn't sleep? How many adults would willingly have a glass of warm milk? Well, isn't that what a latte (as made by mainstream coffee chains, not a proper Italian one) is?

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Heavy legs like lead

The title describes it all with respect to this morning's run. I was scheduled to do 5 miles at 11:45. I decided even before leaving the house to cut it to 4, since I'm still easing into this whole training seriously thing. (I'm adapting the FIRST program pretty liberally!) But I just could not get into it, either mentally or physically this morning, and I ended up walking a good portion of the 3 miles I ended up doing.

This picture describes how my legs feel:Original image courtesy germanuncut77 via Flickr. Bad photoshopping all mine.

3 miles, 41:09
Juneathons: 24/25 (+2 extra credits)

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Mysore: the class you take by yourself

Last night I got home from work and, since I'd had a lie-in that morning, still needed to run. I was scheduled to do an interval pyramid that would have had me running, for intervals, about 5k, plus the warmup, cooldown, and recoveries. I cut it short and only did about a half hour total in the interest of getting home before 8:30. I had snuck in and tried to get in-and-out without waking the dog since I think it's kind of mean to come in, take him for a walk, then put him back in his crate right away. I won't do that again - he was quiet the whole time I was home but apparently started howling shortly thereafter, and Meg could hear him from the end of our lane (200 yards or so)! Serves me right for lazing about yesterday morning, though.

Then this morning I was off to yoga. Katie had me start on the next pose, ardha baddha padmottanasana (half-bound lotus intense stretch posture). I am in serious need of some chest opening, as I couldn't even grab my elbow, let alone the toe of my foot! With practice all things will come, I guess. Still also working to get my hand flat in parivritta trikonasana (is it spinal flexibility or tits in the way?) reach the floor in utthita parsvakonasana (will I ever get there?), skipping parivritta parsvakonasana (see: spinal flexibility, arm length from above), and requiring a little help through the utthita hasta padangusthanasana series (though so do many people much further along in the sequence than I am, I think it's just a really tough one). In a hurry, I managed to quicken my breathing to do my practice in 35 minutes today, yikes!

I was thinking about my relationship with yoga this morning. It's been something I do, off and on, since I was in high school (see also: running). I started, when I was about 15 and living in a small backwoods town, by trying to learn yoga from a book and practicing on my own in my room. I took a class one semester in college, but it was really of the 'advanced stretching' kind and I wasn't engaged or challenged enough to stick with it - it just fulfilled a PE requirement. I took vinyasa classses semi-regularly in graduate school and after, through my gym, until I met Meg (I even got her to take a few with me while we were 'wooing' but once we moved in together that was all over - now she does what she calls 'no-ga'). When we moved to New York I found a studio nearby and took some classes from them. I struggled a bit because either I wasn't regular enough or the classes weren't regular enough to ensure that there was always one at my level - sometimes I'd go and not get the workout I needed, while other times it would be so far above my abilities as to not be enjoyable. I never found a teacher or class I really clicked with, and we were so broke at the time that for something that wasn't exactly perfect it just wasn't worth the money. I bought David Swenson's Practice Manual and started doing ashtanga by myself at home, reverting to my yoga roots. I didn't know enough at the time, however, to realise that you shouldn't do the entire primary series before you're ready! and I was frustrated at how bloody hard it all seemed to be, and gradually I let this practice lapse. It didn't help that doing yoga at home often meant that the (actual) dog tried to 'help' during downward-facing-dog by licking my face. Meg for my birthday one year set up our spare room to be a little yoga studio for me, and I did yoga on my own with DVDs until we left that apartment. When we moved to London I started taking the odd class here and there.

And then I found mysore. It's exactly right for me. It's a class, but it moves at the level you're at, and the level you're at that day. It rewards regularity and discipline in your practice. It increases in difficulty slowly, letting you ease into things, without the feeling of competitiveness I sometimes get in called classes. It's independent, and yet there's a community in it. I see the same people every day I'm there. I've only been going a month and yet already people say hello. I've had 3 different teachers (plus the one who taught my 'intro to mysore' class) since the regular teacher is away, and they've all helped me improve my practice. What can I say, I'm a convert.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Juneathons days 20-22: a computerless weekend

I spent a wonderful weekend with no computer so am now catching up on a whole weekend's worth of Juneathons and blogs.

Saturday was Juneathon-lite: Friday was Meg's birthday and we 'celebinebriated' it in style, so Saturday I just went for a short bike ride to The School of Life where I had a bibliotherapy consultation (5.5 miles round trip, approx 40 minutes total). I am excited to read the 'prescriptions' that come out of this program, since in the 40-ish minutes we were talking she already recommended about 5 books that sound interesting as opposed to my usual practice of wandering around grabbing things at random off the shelves based on their covers (note: you actually can judge a book by its cover: if the writing on the front is in a 'comic' or 'handwriting' font, I won't like the book).

Sunday I did the first long run of my official half-marathon training. I was scheduled for 8 miles but since that's further than I've run all year, I elected to cut it down to 6 miles. Actually, I'm quite pleased with myself - when I was doing marathon training my longest training run was (yikes!) half the distance of the real thing, and I've already run that far in training. If I'd been able to run the whole distance without stopping at the pace I ran today, I'd have done a 2:30 half, which would be absolutely incredible for me. Now, I had a few stops in there, so it doesn't really count, but I'm still quite happy. I also discovered a new route - the Capital Ring. I can't believe I've lived here 2 years without running on this lovely green path. I'll almost certainly be doing more long runs on it, though I don't think I'll use it much before work as it's clearly the home of quite a few homeless people and thus probably a little quiet for my taste early in the morning (especially in the winter when it's likely to be dark). 6.13 miles, 1:14:35

This morning I of course went to yoga where I did utthita hasta padangustanasana all by myself! as Katie was busy helping someone brand new. It's certainly harder by myself and I didn't do part B very strongly, but I can definitely feel improvement over when I first added this pose on.

Juneathons: 21/220 (+ 2 extra credit)

Friday, 19 June 2009

Does yoga improve running?

I wouldn't know, but Runner Kara posted a link to a story that posits that it does, and gives advice on how to make the two work together. I know for myself that I feel less stiff after running, stronger, more healthful about my life in general when I do yoga.

The reason I wouldn't know if running improves yoga or vice versa is that I really haven't been that consistent with either of them, except the last 19 days. Well, excluding yesterday's big fat FAIL, which I'll blame on feeling really shit. I did nothing of note yesterday. I was meant to run 6 miles, and woke up completely unable to get out of bed. After sleeping for several extra hours I found myself able to move as far as the couch but no running. I even tried convincing myself to go for 4 miles, or even 1 mile. But no, FAIL. Oh well.

Yoga this morning. My mat is getting worn through, and I'll have to replace it soon, but I've promised it to myself after Juneathon if I've been successful. Class this week has been led by Katie. I miss Brett, honestly. Maybe it's just that I've been a little later this week, so there are more people there when I get there, but I feel more personalised attention from Brett, and I also feel less like a fraud for being at the place in my practice I am with him. Can't really put my finger on it, but I get the sense that Katie feels she's wasting her time helping me through utthita hasta paddangusthasana. Oh well, Philippa will be back in a week and a half. (Though I've never practiced with her, so what do I know?)

Juneathons: 18/19 (+ 2 extra credit)

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

The energy of speed

I am doing an off-site meeting today that starts later than my normal work day (yay!) but not so late as to make it feasible to go into the office beforehand. So I got to sleep an extra hour before going to yoga (and truthfully, could have done another half hour without problems).

So I get to yoga nearly an hour later than normal and of course it's much more crowded than normal. Usually I'm one of the first 7-8 people there, so there's tons of room everywhere. This morning I came in and there were people finishing their practice (that's usually me at this time) and 20 people in the room already. I like the early morning practice better, but this was a nice change of pace.

Something about the room this morning had me flying through the poses. I only did 8 sun salutations but that shouldn't account for the 5+ minutes shorter I was today. I was talking to this woman in the changing area afterwards (I'm a regular enough that people talk to me! It's only taken 2 years in London...and a month at this class. Hmmm, maybe I should have done this earlier.) and she was remarking on how she felt she was speeding through it too. Must have been something in the air. Why can't that ever happen to me while running? I'd rather take my time at yoga and run quicker, instead of the other way around.

yoga up through utthita hasta padangustanasana
Juneathons: 17/17 (+2 extra credit)

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Is it time for real training already?

I've been lazing about my training lately - check out the calendar, where most of my runs are sub 3 miles, listed as "easy", and are still helping me put more distance in the first half of June than I did in the first 4 months of the year combined. So imagine my terror when I checked out the calendar this weekend and discovered that the Aviemore Half Marathon is now exactly 16 weeks away. Coincidentally, that's the length of the FIRST program I'll be giggling at the workouts suggested by aiming to follow for this race. No mental warmup, no easing into the training, just 'get your butt in gear now' style ass-kicking coming my way.

This morning Coach FIRST recommended 12 400m intervals. I did 6. He recommended I do them in 2:38. Since I had the Training Partner (Garmin) set on intervals I'd designed at home I didn't know how slow fast I was going until later, but I was pleased to see that I was pretty consistent, 5 at 2:25 and one at 2:38. I decided to stop after 6 since even cutting it short would make this my longest single run (except for the Crisis Square Mile fun jog-walk-beer drinking event) this year, and I'd like to be able to move for the rest of the day, do yoga tomorrow, and continue with the program, so I thought trying not to overdo it would be wise.

I have forgotten how much I enjoy intervals. I feel energized and happy to start the day, which is important for me right now. I'm also enjoying reading back to last year this time when I was also half-marathon training, but in a bit better shape and hoping for a faster half in the fall. Maybe it'll catch up with me?

But yeah, can't believe actual training time has snuck up on me so much.

400m intervals for 3.25 mi (incl warm-up/cool-down) in 46:07 (incl rest times of 6x1:30) = 3.25 mi in 37:09 active, 11:25 pace
Juneathons: 16/16 (+2 extra credit)

Monday, 15 June 2009

Juneathon day 15: The beauty of accepting what is

That's the theme for today: being happy with what is instead of always striving. Trying to be better is all well and good, but it can be full of strife and angst and create stress in our lives. I'm feeling stressed lately. So today I'm just trying to be. I have a body that moves, a brain that thinks, a family that loves me. And that's enough for today. I hope.

yoga up through utthita hasta padangustanasana
Juneathons: 15/15 (+2 extra credit)

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Nearly halfway there, how's everyone feeling?

Just about to the midpoint of Juneathon. I'm glad to have the 'reason' to go out every day, since I'm not quite ready to start training for the fall half-marathons. But I'm feeling tired lately. How's everyone else?

Today I just went for a short little slow jog, we drank a few beers yesterday and I mostly didn't want to go and didn't get started until 4:30. But even after 2 miles, I always feel hardcore when I stop in the little greengrocers to pick something up at the end of a run.

1.93 miles, 23:09
Juneathon: 14/14 (+ 2 extra credit)

Saturday, 13 June 2009

The hunter and the vegetarian

So we went to see Under the Sea in IMAX 3D today (just under 10 miles round-trip, something around an hour via bike), Meg's idea of a Saturday afternoon date. I found myself surrounded by two 8-year-old ankle/knee-biters who will probably find themselves cohabitating in 20 years (JogBlog & the Meat Eater? perhaps).

Behind me was the budding vegetarian. It cried every time something got hunted. Me, I was all intrigued by watching the cuttlefish eat the crab. I mean, how many hours did they need to spend scuba diving (with the rebreather no less) to get the 30 seconds of footage of one marine animal eating another? The future-veg did not like the implication of watching the sea lions, followed by the sharks, followed by the sea lions again, while Jim Carrey intoned, 'Everything in the sea depends on something else.'

On my left, crazy safari 8-year-old. He spent the entire 40 minutes of the movie trying to 'catch' the 3D animals shown on screen. I finally had to tell him to sit still.

Somewhere in this, we rode bikes. So this counts for Juneathon, right?

Juneathons 13/13 (+2 extra credit)

Friday, 12 June 2009

Exercise and sport for fun, or: What to say to an unathletic kid trying out sport

Or rather, what *not* to say to an unathletic, slightly awkward kid trying out sports.

My parents have an old friend who also happened to be my teacher for a couple of years, and my volleyball coach when I first started to play. One time after I'd been playing for a couple of years, she said to me, "Nobody told you that you weren't an athlete, so you became one."

I can't remember how old I was when this happened, but it was certainly somewhere in the age range where you're at your most awkward and self-conscious. So of course I took this very well-intentioned statement completely wrong.

I focused on the first half of the sentence: 'you aren't an athlete'. I became embarassed by my sad strivings to do something I'm not completely a natural at. I stopped thinking about myself as an athlete. When I wasn't fast, I stopped running. When someone commented on my (not 100% perfect) swimming form, I stopped swimming. When I wasn't a star volleyball player, I stopped doing that.

Over the years, though, I've come to focus on the second half of that statement: 'you've become an athlete'. I remembered that I *like* to run, and it doesn't matter that I'll never keep up with Paula Radcliffe. I enjoy yoga, so who cares if I can't put my right leg over my left shoulder. My bike can get me around and moving, even if I'll never get an MBE for my cycling prowess.

The thing that really changed all this for me was rugby. There's a place in the sport for people of all sizes and shapes. My teammates encouraged me to get fitter, not to lose some arbitrary amount of weight or conform to some arbitrary shape. In fact, getting too small was sometimes a problem!

Meg was a competitive athlete until just after we met. And now she can't do sport just for fun. She used to be so good that it frustrates her to not be that good any more, and she doesn't enjoy it. She can't be average. And while I'm happy she had the success that she did in her earlier life, it makes me sad that that success has ruined her ability to take pleasure in the doing, rather than in the being great.

Today, I'd consider myself an amateur athlete. I'm not a superstar, but I do what I enjoy, for myself. It took me a really long time to come to this place, though. In my interactions with kids, I hope to ask them not, 'how good are you?' but rather 'are you having fun?'. I want to tell them I enjoy watching them become *better* athletes - with emphasis on the fact that they already are.

Yoga, really struggling with utthita hasta padangutanasana - my legs are really tired from the cycling, I think!
Juneathons: 12/12 + 2 extra credit

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Cycling while tired

Juneathon day 11. I am very tired, and really don't want to ride my bike to work. I actually looked up how bad the transit disruption was before I got out of bed, to see if it would be possible to do a non-bike commute. It's not, which is a good thing considering that it's Juneathon and I didn't get up in time to run. So I got up and rode my bike to work, but perhaps a little slower than I should have. Now it is time to go home, and I still don't want to ride. So no extra credit on Juneathon today even though I'm riding twice. Sleepy = lamest post ever.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Vegan brunch: Fennel Risotto, Smoky Shittakes, and Fried Bananas

So Cathy got a copy of Vegan Brunch to give away on Planet Veggie and my friend Tracy won it but she lives in the US so I said I'd send it to her if I could make something out of it first. Meg and I flipped through it and in the savory section there was a lot of tofu, which I don't mind but Meg refuses to eat, but I didn't want to wait until I felt like making brunch to do something with this and I really wanted savory for dinner and not sweet.

In the end I decided to make Fennel Breakfast Risotto, which was REALLY REALLY good. I cheated a little in that I didn't buy quite enough vegetable stock and so I topped it up with a chicken stock cube and a little extra water. So not exactly vegan, but vegan in spirit. Other than that my only issues were that a cup and a half of chopped shallots is a LOT of shallots to chop by hand and I really wish I had a food processor, and that risotto is a lot of work in the stirring (not unique to this recipe, obviously). This was really great, I'll be saving the recipe to make this again.

I also made Smoky Shittakes, which were meant to be sauteed shittakes cut in half, but I didn't read the recipe carefully and sliced them instead. I also didn't find any liquid smoke so just used soy sauce. I think it actually worked out though. I topped the risotto with them, and they added a really nice salty nutty almost-crunch to the (clearly slightly underseasoned) risotto.

As a side we had bananas, dredged in flour/ginger/cinnamon, and fried. I neglected to tap off the flour (too many pans going at the same time, clearly) so they were a little too bready, and because I had bananas instead of plantains they weren't sweet enough to offer the counterpoint to the savory risotto & mushrooms. If I were to do them again I'd put a little sugar in the breading. Instead we put some honey over them, and it turned out great.

Thanks, Cathy, for the competition, and Tracy, for letting me borrow your book for a bit. Let me know how you get on!

Juneathon day 10: well, I certainly won't do *that* again

It's Wednesday so that must make it a yoga day. But London tube employees have gone on strike, so while I do respect their right to strike (though honestly, pay raises for less hours? in this economy? I wish.) I also knew I would be undertaking a cycle commute today.

Last night was spent fixing a vegan-brunch-for-dinner (which deserves and shall have it's own separate post) and finally getting the rack put on my bike. I get up a little late this morning but head to yoga anyway. Definitely a nice ride at this time of day (pre-7am): streets are quiet, traffic is light, etc. I have never ridden to this yoga studio before, and I miss the mark completely and have to stop in Piccadilly Circus and cheat with the phone-map. Finally I get there and am ready to start practice at 7:30 - a half hour later than normal. Monday there were tons of new people in class but they seem to have gone, as it's just the regulars again. Hard to say, though, maybe those new people will become regulars once the strike is over.

I do my 5 sun salutation As and only 3 Bs because I'm already warm from the bike ride and also because I'm late. I get up to Prasarita Padottanasana and Brett comes over to help me. 'Set your feet wider,' he says. 'No, wider. Wider.' And then he's holding my hips and I'm leaning forward, forward, forward, and there's nothing to catch me, but I've got my head about 3 inches from the ground. Wow. I've always wondered how people get their heads on the ground; I always thought I'd just never be that flexible, but suddenly I can see it. My ankle is burning where I broke it once - clearly still not that strong. When I'm finished with the pose we talk for a while about letting the breath take you into the pose and remembering to lean forward over your toes instead of backwards over your heels, and then he decides I'm ready to add the beginning of the Primary Series, utthita hasta padangusthasana (there are actually 4 parts, one leg holding your toe standing up, one leg holding your toe nose to knee, one leg holding your toe out to the side, one leg that holds itself up).

Then I hop back on my bike and go the rest of the way to work. Unfortunately having gone to yoga puts me in central London at rush hour, and even though there are loads of other bikers around (more than I ever remember) there are also loads of people who don't normally drive and aren't used to watching out for cyclists. One guy yells at me because he's stopped at a light really close to the edge of the lane and my handlebar touches his mirror ever so gently as I go past. Really? In the fight between car and bike, mister, your hatchback will win. Again I'm kind of turned around having started from a part of London I normally try to avoid on my bike and it takes me an hour ten just to get to work and it's already 9:30 so I scramble through a shower and into my office only 15 minutes late in the end, and then one of my coworkers asks me if I've swum to work.

I've got to ride home again so I'm pre-emptively giving myself an extra credit for today's Juneathon.

Juneathons: 10/10 (+2 extra credit)

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Who have you encountered in your (running) life who has really stood out, and why?

Yesterday I asked 'Who in your running life has really stood out, and why?'. I suppose it's only fair if I'm the first to answer my own question.

One person who has been an amazing source of inspiration for me is Marathon Dude Bill. Bill is incredible. He runs fast, really fast. He runs a lot. But he also took the time to comment and encourage me, especially when I was a new runner-blogger and when I was a-struggling away with marathon training. He's always pushing himself to improve, even though he's already way faster than I can ever dream of becoming, which reminds me that I too can improve and that even though in comparison to Bill I am laughably slow I can still push myself. He's really nice about saying all these things to me, too! One time he even went for a run with me, though he didn't know it as he actually that day existed only in my head. So, thanks Bill, for everything!

Last night we went to see Beyonce and did not get home until late. Then we spent a little while looking through the cookbook so I can make something and blog and send it on to Tracy as promised. All of which added up to not going to bed until 1 or something. But since hanging out with screaming 12-year-olds does not count as a Juneathon activity this early in the month, away trotted I at 6:30 am for a getting-faster-but-still-laughably-slow 30 minutes (just over 2.5 miles) for Juneathon day 9.

Juneathons: 9/9 + 1 extra credit

Monday, 8 June 2009

Your questions answered, and some questions posed

Thanks for your comments over the past few days. For Juneathon day 8, I thought I'd give some thought to your questions:

How do you stretch a bike rack? Highway Kind asks why I'm taking my cycling equipment to yoga. Good question. I think I misspoke a bit, I don't really mean stretch. The red arrow points at the bits that are meant to go around my bike tire on the frame at the back. You're supposed to kind of spread the two arms apart. For whatever reason, my bike has a really wide frame at that spot. I tried my hardest to pull the arms apart at the appropriate spot. I could kind of, sort of, get them to go onto the frame properly, if I pulled hard enough to worry about throwing my back out and got Meg to help me, but we could never get them to stay properly long enough to put the screws in. So, we'll try version number 2, which seemed better when I tried it in the shop.

Is Juneathon a big commitment? Well, yes and no. Cranky Girl is curious if I ought to be committed, or if I'm just committed for the month. So far, I've really not done much more than I would have done even without Juneathon, it's just made me be conscious of not skipping for no reason at all. But I suspect that, as Juneathon goes on, the things we all count as Juneathon activities will get more 'creative'.

Can I blog about what I've made from Vegan Brunch? JogBlog is rightly wondering what I've done with the book I intercepted from Tracy. Yes, I can. Just as soon as I make something from the book, which should be tomorrow for dinner.

And now, a question for you. A while back, Meg and I went to this amazing dinner at the School of Life (philosopher figures out how to make the degree pay!) and, along with the food menu was a conversational menu. I thought I'd pose one or two here, with a running/fitness slant if you like. So:

Who have you encountered in your (running) life who has really stood out, and why? Answer in the comments, or on your own blog if you prefer - just link back or comment so we can read all your answers.

Juneathons: 8/8 (+1 extra credit) with yoga this morning.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Errand girl goes Juneathon (day 7) in the rain

Meg had to pick something up from her office today, and we'd decided earlier in the weekend (Friday, while it was still sunny) to ride our bikes to get it. This afternoon we had been through rain and sun and rain and were back on sun so we decided to go. Which is when the rain came back, of course. But because I am a dedicated Juneathoner off we went and luckily the rain stopped again. That to me is one of the points of Juneathon - to create a space in your life to be active where you might not be otherwise. Because honestly once we got started riding I was happy. After picking up from work we took a little spin through Spitalfields and bought a new rack for my bike - I got one for Christmas but have not been able to make it fit my bike. They say 'just stretch it, it will fit' but I am telling you this thing does not fit. I tried for an hour. So anyway I haven't put the rack on my bike, but since there is a threat of a tube strike this week I really wanted to get my bike set up so I can ride if I need to later this week. Then we went to the grocery. I wasn't prepared enough to get ingredients for brunch-as-dinner tonight, but I will make something from the book Tracy won in JogBlog's competition later this week so I can send the book on to Tracy soonish. Exciting Sunday, I know.

Juneathons: 7/7

Juneathon day 6: Sleeping in

This is going to be a really sad post because yesterday after my short little Couch to 5k jaunt (2.5 miles, 31 minutes at 5 min run/2.5 min walk) we went to the Polo in the Park and between yesterday being a whole 24 hours ago and the champagne, wine, and beer that was consumed yesterday, I can't actually remember much. But I did get out there, and I'm happy to report that I have made it 1/5 through Juneathon without having to resort to calling walking to the pub a Juneathon activity. I might start today though.

Juneathons: 6/6

Right, I remembered what this post was supposed to be about. Here's a question. How do you 'get things going' or keep them from getting going for a morning run? I really can't be hanging about the house waiting for my digestive tract to wake up before I run, but man was I struggling by the end of this run yesterday, and it was only 30 minutes. For a race, I can get up early, but on a regular day, not so much. Not even on a Saturday. Once I sit down to just hang out, I'm pretty likely to stay parked on the couch. Advice, anyone?

Friday, 5 June 2009

Juneathon days 4.2 and 5

Last night was the Crisis Square Mile run which I ran for the second half of my uber-hardcore two-a-day schedule and not at all for the promise of beer and pizza with JogBlog and Iliketocount. I had been promised 3.5-ish miles so I wasn't too worried and started off with 2000+ other people with phone in hand. There were running nuns kissing, but I was too slow to take a photo. I twittered while running. I walked too much, even though there weren't too many queues on London Bridge, mostly because we didn't go on London Bridge at all but did cross the river 4 times, and finished 4.2 miles in 54-something. Then we met up for pizza and beer along with some runner-non-bloggers and one non-runner-non-blogger (that's Meg) and discussed how this is the first time the course has ever been longer than advertised since Cathy started doing it. Also Cathy gave me Tracy's copy of Vegan Brunch which I hope to make something from this weekend before sending it away next week. Finally got home around 11.

Which made the alarm at 6 a little unpleasant. I woke up stiff and feeling every one of the 6 miles I ran yesterday, the longest I've run in a really long time even if I did do it in 2 sessions. Yoga was very welcome. I got to the studio and had to look up in a book (conveniently placed just near the locker room but not actually there for reference - I think I was supposed to buy it) the new postures I learned on Wednesday. I could barely reach the floor for the first sun salutation. Luckily they do what they're supposed to and get your muscles warm and moving pretty quickly and by the time I finished A I was actually moving halfway decently. But I am incredibly tired today and really looking forward to a bit of a lie-in tomorrow.

Juneathons: 5/5 + 1 extra credit

Thursday, 4 June 2009

If Marshall Mathers can do it, I'm going to need a bigger wardrobe

The runner-twitterverse is all atwerp at the notion that Eminem runs two-a-days. Well it's Juneathon day 4 and tonight is the Crisis Square Mile Run but from what JogBlog said about last year I'm not convinced this will be a great run so I figure if Eminem can run twice a day I can do it once in a while. Unfortunately I had an early meeting at work so at 5:45 the alarm starts a-buzzing and I'm off by 6 for a really short couch-to-5k version 2 run. I've annoyingly found the park nearest my house to be closed in the mornings lately which seems stupid considering the sun is up at 5 these days and I'm generally not ready to do pushups in the park until 7 or so. But this route takes me past another park that I could swear I saw someone running in this morning, and I got close to there at the end of a 'walk' cycle so I stopped my watch and went over to the park in the hopes of getting in but of course the early morning was just causing hallucinations and this park is actually locked until 7:30 so I started my watch again and carried on running until I got to the part where the last 5 minute run was all that was left and I found myself on a path with grass on either sides so I used this spot to do pushups and situps but having had two beers last night I was dehydrated and that always gives me cramps so I felt like hell and knew I had to get going so I didn't do leglifts or stretching and then I carried on running but was still about a half-mile from my house when I finished the last 5 minutes and probably could have done another cycle except that I still have another run to do this afternoon so I let myself be lazy and just walk home.

And the walk home was not 100 pleasant because I do not have enough clothes to do Juneathon properly so I've been wearing clean ones to yoga (because other people are around me) and then the same ones again to run (when I'm by myself, I promise to wear clean ones to the run tonight) but I think I might have to do a little shopping because this is getting really bad. And I was thinking yesterday about how being a yoga instructor must be among the grossest jobs ever (maybe Mike Rowe should do a Dirty Jobs on this) because I don't 'perspire' so much as ooze sweat from every one of my pores all over my body while I'm doing yoga and I usually wear a sleeveless shirt and yet Brett and Jamie are nice enough to come over and adjust me anyway and don't even wipe their hands on their shirts afterwards (or if they do they wait until I can't see them, which is practically the same thing).

1.84 miles, 21:00. Juneathons: 4/4

ETA: Oh yeah, I forgot, I am counting this bad boy for National Running Day since it was still Wednesday in California, never mind Alaska and Hawaii, when I started.

Edited again to add a Juneathon count, clearly getting up this early does not do good things to my ability to string coherent thoughts together.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Juneathon day 3: Fully fundamental

I think Brett has decided I'm never going to get all the way to the floor in Utthita Parsvakonasana and as much was clear to Jamie on Monday as well, when he suggested that my next step was to do even more sun salutations. I was afraid I was going to be doing not-even-the-entire-fundamental-series for the rest of my life in the hopes that my hips will open and my arms will get long enough to reach the floor properly. But Brett had other ideas, and today had me add to my practice. I'm still working on utthita parsvaokonasana (that's why they call it practice, I guess, always trying to improve) and I've got no hope for the revolved version, parivritta parsvakonasana, so he didn't even go there with me. Instead he just said to add on the next bits, prasarita padottanasana and parsvottanasana, which gets me through the entire fundamental asanas (except for that revolved side angle one and the side angle that I'm still not quite fully into). Basically adding some shoulder and chest opening to the leg opening warmup. My shoulders are really flexible in some directions, so that I have to work hard in down dog not to collapse past a straight arms-and-shoulders-and-hips line, but really really really tight in other directions, barely pulling away from my back in prasarita padottanasana C (wide-legged forward bend with your arms over your head backwards.

Pretty pleased I seem to be doing ok at Juneathon so far, day 3 and no skipping! I wish I could start my Juneathon counting from Saturday because for the first time in a really long time (or maybe ever) I'm on 5 days in a row. I seem to have lost the plot on this post, though, as I started it at 8:30 before the workday started and have forgotten what I wanted to say now that lunchtime has rolled around and I can finish it.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Juneathon day 2: In which we discuss being a rockstar

I went to a Counting Crows concert last night and was really tired this morning (even though I woke up 10 minutes before the alarm, my eyes just did not want to open until 10 past 6). This is the second time I've seen them in recent weeks, and we go to a lot of shows. You know how sometimes you can just tell when a performer is 'phoning it in'? And sometimes everything is just tight and they look like they're having a great time? But no matter what, the performers still go on every night and the crowd still cheers, because for most of them this is the only time they're going to see that performer for a while, and so this *is* their show.

I spent this morning's run thinking about this as it applies to my work life. No lie, I've been struggling a bit at work lately for reasons I will not go into on the public interwebs, but I had a great conversation with a colleague about coming to terms with the fact that we are the ones people's moods depend on at work. For the people around me, what I bring to work *is* their show. They applaud me every time they ask my advice about something. They cheer when they ask me to weigh in on client dilemmas. You get the picture.

It's the same with our running. It's not always easy to get out there, to train for our respective events, and the temptation is to sometimes run junk miles or skip a day. But we applaud one another by reading blogs, commenting, cheering each other on. Today, I'm going to applaud one rockstar I've never cheered for before, one runner who's blog I sometimes read (or at least I've put into my Google Reader list) but I've never commented to before. I challenge you to do the same.

2.52 miles, 30:07.
Juneathons: 2/2

Monday, 1 June 2009

Juneathon day 1: Monday Morning Mysore

(logo shamelessly stolen from JogBlog)
It's Juneathon and so even though I was late getting to bed last night due to a restorative yoga class that didn't end until 9 and then did not go home the most efficient way (nor did I go there the most efficient way, which is how bike-for-transport becomes bike-for-workout-in-flipflops) I got up as directed by the buzzing Blackberry because it would be really bad to FAIL on day 1 of Juneathon and so off to class goes I.

I got there just in time for the chant, which I really ought to learn the words to but as I don't know them yet I just stood quietly before doing all 10 sun salutations hooray. Brett is away - he went to India for the funeral of Guruji - so Jamie the hands-on led class today. As I'm doing yoga mudra (or, you know, what passes for it given that I can neither do lotus or grab even my elbows behind my back or get my chin anywhere near the floor) he comes over to talk to me and asks if I'mve been practicing mostly with Brett or with Phillipa and I say Brett as I started my practice after Phillipa went to India already and apparently he'll be back tomorrow so Jamie doesn't want to give me a new pose but he suggests that the next step for me ought to be adding even more sun salutations until I'm doing 7 or even more of each as this should help me build my stamina. Um, ok. Though actually this is probably not a bad idea while I continue working on utthita pasrvakonasana.

Juneathons: 1/1