Tuesday, 11 March 2014

A high-tech treasure hunt

Wow - what a gorgeous day! At some point during the wash-out of the last few weeks I think I'd given up hope of spring ever arriving, but suddenly I'm waking up to clear skies and sunny days!

We (Lovely Husband and I) took advantage of the early evening sun and popped out for a walk and a bit of geocaching on Alderley Edge today.

For the uninitiated, geocaching is essentially a geek's treasure hunt. Inventive people hide a "cache" (a container that's usually sandwich box-sized, but can be as small as a fingernail or as big as a pirates' treasure chest, and is usually filled with a few small trinkets) and post its co-ordinates on the geocaching website. Geocachers use a GPS device or smartphone to find the cache, sign the log-book inside and log their find on the website. Sometimes they might take one of the trinkets inside and replace it with something else of more-or-less equal value. Then they hide the cache again for the next person to find.

For a necessarily fairly secretive hobby, it's got quite a following. According to the official website, there are currently 2,330,214 geocaches hidden around the world, with 6 million geocachers looking for them. It's basically a way of making a walk a lot more fun (or, if you're really unlucky, getting a police caution), and has already helped us discover new and fascinating places to visit near our home. Sadly, I'm pretty rubbish at actually finding them once we get to the right co-ordinates (my mum always said I couldn't find a needle in a haystack) but fortunately Lovely Husband is pretty damn good at that bit.

Tonight we went out looking for two caches. We spent ages scrabbling around under a hollow tree looking for the first one without success, but we found the second one ingeniously hidden in another tree, and had a lovely walk around the National Trust site at Alderley Edge at the same time.

Signing the logbook

A great thing about the geocaching website is that it rates the terrain that the cache is hidden in. We stuck to pretty straightforward and flat terrain for our gentle evening walk, but if you want a workout you can find caches hidden on the top of mountains and those that require long off-trail hikes or rock-climbing, sailing or even scuba-diving skills to get to. As a recovery walk following last night's tough interval treadmill workout, our stroll tonight suited me just fine…and we even met some friendly sheep for a chat before we came home!

I'm still pretty chuffed about Saturday's 5 mile run. I was ridiculously nervous before it (I have no idea what I thought was going to happen - surely the worst was that I'd get tired and have to walk home) and I had some mental battles with a couple of tough hills (and nearly a physical battle with a speeding car - I definitely would not have won that one). However the last mile felt brilliant and I'm still really happy to have covered half the race distance with nearly 7 weeks to go before the race. I've got another 5 miler planned for tomorrow and, given the weather forecast, I'm pretty excited about it!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Today I...

1) Got dive-bombed by a homicidal wood-pigeon as I ran past his tree

2) Made a decision never again to run along the road with a steep hill, on a blind corner, with no pavement, where cars always drive too fast.

3) Got beeped by a white van man who's probably never run a step in his life

4) Got beeped by a very hot man who'd taken a detour on his way home from work to see if he could spot me (thank you Lovely Husband)

5) Ate these for my post-run snack

6) Ran 5 miles :)))

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Think training's hard? Try losing.

I am such a sore loser. Not outwardly anymore, fortunately. Outwardly I smile and congratulate my opponent and say all the right things. Inwardly, I seethe. I played a pretty important tennis match last weekend (important in my world, that is, not important in relation to Wimbledon or anything) and I lost in two pretty closely-fought sets. I was actually ahead in the first set but it all fell apart fairly quickly and by the end, even though I was putting up a good fight, I just wasn't match-tight or fit enough to pose much of a threat.

I was really grumpy for a while. Really grumpy. Over the last few days, though, I've started to appreciate the match for what it was - a good marker of my current level of play and fitness. I know where I'm at now, so I can make a plan for how to get to where I want to be. And the plan basically involves working harder.

The fact is that if you don't play matches, you won't be match-ready. If you don't get in the gym, you won't be fit enough. If you don't do the baseline drills, you won't make that forehand-down-the-line when you really need it. If it matters enough, you put in the work and the sweat and the time - and if you don't put that time in then it doesn't make any sense to be disappointed at the outcome. I've ditched disappointment and replaced it with determination to do better next time - which means training better now.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Sore feet and new socks

I am sooo excited about my running today. I'm always a bit suspicious about training plans - I look ahead to the preposterous number of miles I'll supposedly be able to run by week 8 or 10 or 12 of the programme and I just can't see how the weeks in between are supposed to get me there. Never mind that the one time I followed a generic training plan to completion (a Runner's World half marathon plan - I did all the training but not the race, ridiculously) it clearly worked.

Same thing this time - I'm following the Bupa beginner's 10 mile training programme, and I absolutely could not see how I was supposed to be able to run 10 miles by the end of it. Or even 5 miles by halfway through it. I just don't think I have any faith in the fact that the more you run, the better you get at it.

Big surprise, though - I'm actually getting better. I went out for a 40 minute run today, aiming to cover about 3.5 miles, and it turned into a exhilarating 4.4 miles in about 46 minutes. Once I got into my stride, I just didn't want to stop, and could definitely have run further if I hadn't had plans I needed to get home for.

I did manage to take half the skin of my left foot by wearing ridiculous socks, though. I've only got three pairs of proper running socks, and I almost never seem to have both halves of one pair washed at the same time (don't ask. I don't understand that either) which leads to me wearing random combinations of running and non-running socks:

The Nike one on the left, good as it is (with it's matching pair) for tennis, did not want to go for a run today, and made its point by injuring my heel maliciously. I mentioned this to my lovely mum this afternoon, and she promptly marched me down to Sweaty Betty and bought me two pairs of Blister Resist socks. Not only are they padded and double-layered, they're also purple. I love them very much :)

In other news, I am really, really tempted to take part in Caitlin's Ironman March. The challenge is to cover the full ironman triathlon distance (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run) over the month of March. The running bit will be easy, as I should cover that distance and more with my 10 mile training, but I'm not a great swimmer and biker at the best of times. Obviously, getting better at them is the main motivation for taking part in the challenge, but I think I might struggle to complete it alongside my running training, especially since I'll be on night shifts for a full week in the middle of the month, which means seven days of probably no exercise whatsoever.

However, I guess the whole point of a challenge is that it should be, well, challenging, so I'm going to give it a go. Even if I don't cover the full distance, I'll definitely be fitter by the end of the month than the beginning, which is reason enough to go for it!