Blogging to half-marathon success!

2010 – Bigger and Better! And Blogged.

There are big plans for 2010 running, but instead of going into them here, I’ll refer you to our 2010 blog:

Catch up on all the McAlpine running happenings over there.

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Keeping what’s been learnt

The first tournament of the year was this past weekend. Much fun was had by all. It’s always nice to play with good players who can coach/instruct as was the case. Now the challenge is to make it last longer than one weekend.

A couple things I’m hoping to take away:

  • Continue to learn and understand the rules and when to call what – I think I only misquoted 2 rules this weekend.
  • Proper foot and hand position when marking – This was something I feel much improved in. I had good players to watch mark properly, and was able to mark good players.

Can’t wait for Tuesday/Wednesday league!

Posted in exercise

Organic Food

Now that the  (half) marathon is over.  It’s time to turn our blogging attention elsewhere.  From now on, the blog will be about more than just running.  I’m hoping to start including more information on other exercise (ultimate frisbee), food, and whatever other things we can think of.

I started getting a crop share this summer, and I want to post regularly about what I’m getting in it.  For those who don’t know, a crop share is when you pay a farmer a set amount, and then he (in my case he and his family) provides us with a box of veggies each week.  You never know what you are going to get, it is just whatever is harvested from the farm that week.  Our crop share is from an organic Mennonite farm 30 minutes south east of London. Crop shares are a great bargain.  We pay a little more than $10/week and we get a half bushel of food.  It’s an excellent way to get a variety of vegetables and a good challenge to eat them all each week.

Last week we got lettuce, radishes, boc choi, rhubarb, asparagus, potatoes, a small bag of salad greens and some other green leafy thing that tasted good with pasta.

This week, more lettuce, more radish, asparagus, rhubarb, collard green, broccoli rabe and green onions.

Quite a good mix.  It is fun to try to eat it all.  Last night I used the broccoli rabe to make a curry with chick peas.  Pretty good!

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100% Confidence is not 100% Correctness

We won our first game last night. It felt good to play up to our potential. Before the game I spent some time thinking about positions each player will be playing – who are the handles, who will be playing which position in a zone defence. It’s strange that when I’m not captain I have no problem bossing people around and calling the play before the pull but when everyone is staring at me I suddenly am not so sure. It’s great having some experience on the team to help out.

When I started playing seriously a couple years ago I remember calling fouls VERY rarely and when I did I seemed to always be talked out of it by a more experienced player. Since then, I’ve made an effort over the last 6 months to read through and understand the rules and have subscribed to the UPA rules discussion newsgroup as part of doing this. It seems like in a non-competitive league calling fouls is sometimes considered bad spirit, but I’d much rather use this time to learn how and when to call fouls. When it’s relevant, I tell my players to call fouls if they’re ever in doubt and I prefer when they hold their ground. If it’s really not a foul then the other team can just contest and discuss. I took my own advice yesterday, and after my teammate was fouled (uncontested) while attempting a catch I declared it a goal. Another (more experienced) teammate questioned my rules knowledge but left it alone when I told him I was 100% sure that I’m right.

I was not right. In fact, I’d even asked the newsgroup about this exact question back in August.

Sigh. Forgiveness has been requested by my team and the other team’s captain, and we won the game 15-10 so I don’t think it was a make-or-break decision… but I still feel bad about it. Hopefully next time around I’ll make the right call. In the meantime I’ll still be calling fouls as I experience them and sticking to my arguments unless they show me in the rules that I’m wrong.

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Tough Love

A new experience for me lately has been captaining the league’s extras team. It’s been a pleasant experience which has been made so largely due to the other experienced players on the team, as well as all the relatively new players giving such a great effort (it’s always nice to be asked to practice!).

This week, our team was playing one which had plenty of subs (maybe two full lines) whereas we are all doubling frequently. As second half came around we were not as fresh as the other team, and the question arose:
“Should we just stay behind the person we’re marking to keep them from going long?”

This is not a new question. I’ve asked it myself. While some may disagree, my answer is:
“No. Play harder.”

Am I a big meanie? Maybe. Unrealistic? Perhaps. I see the pro-surrender-the-short-cut argument; “hopefully they’ll drop it”, “it’s better then them scoring on a single throw”, “the cutter is a better player than me”. Here’s the big meanie in me: all those are excuses. Granted, sometimes the cutter really is a lot better, but I’d much rather hear from my teammates: “put me on that person again, I’m going to beat them this time”, or “how can I cover them better so they don’t get away from me as easily”. The big argument I have against surrendering the short pass especially holds true for new players: it’s not teaching them properly.

Time to head to the gym. I’d better keep up with whoever I’m marking after going on like that.

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no pain.

Happy to report that I played ultimate last night and went for a 6.5km run this afternoon and had no pain.  My time for the run was 33minutes.  Pretty good.  Much closer to my goal of having a sub 5min/km pace the next time I run a half marathon.

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With the race over, it’s now time to turn to ultimate, and turn I have – as in turned my ankle. Last night’s game was fun and my team is full of great people and I think we’ll do really well. Unfortunately I’m now out for at least this week with a sprain.

I’m very blessed to be able to say that next to a sore back for a couple days (from a squash game with Michael in 2000) it’s the most serious sports injury I’ve ever had, and it’s already feeling a lot better. Last night my ankle was a big puffy tennis ball, and my new teammate (long-time rugby player) mentioned casually that I should be “RICE”ing my ankle. My puzzled look prompted an explanation:

  • R: Rest
  • I: Ice
  • C: Compress
  • E: Elevate

I’m sure this is old-hat to most but to the new-to-injury-me it was good advice. Today, my ankle is only a puffy golf ball, and I’m now able to walk on it. I’m mostly confident I’ll be back on the field next week.

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I seem to have picked up a sore knee during the run.  Last week I was feeling pretty good, a little stiff on Monday and Tuesday, but nothing serious.  The only difficulty was my right knee (my left hurt during the actual race).  It is sore on the outside part.  My friend said this is my ITL. I don’t know what that is, but I’ll take his word for now.

It was a bit sore when I was climbing stairs early in the week, but I still managed to play some (very light) ultimate on Wednesday night.  It did hurt when I was throwing, I think because of the twisting.

My goal for the summer is to work on speed.  I went out for a run on Sunday morning at a quick pace.  I decided to run 7k.  I made good time for the first 5, but then the knee started to get sore.  I decided to walk the next kilometer and then see how it felt.  The pain went away quickly when I started to walk, but came back about 500m into the last kilometer.   This isn’t good, but I’m not panicking yet.  I’ll continue to take it easy for the next week before I consider seeing a doctor.  On the positive side, my run was fairly quick.  I did the whole 7 k in about 40minutes.  Considering I walked about 1.5 km I’m pretty pleased.

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Sunday – 830am

Distance: 21.1km
Time: 1:49:43

Huzzah. 95rd overall, 11th in my age category. I’m very happy about this. It’s been a great experience and I’m glad it’s over.

Michael said a lot of what I was feeling in his post. I especially agree about #17 starting to feel terrible and very especially agree that the wind/hills were bad through 18-20 and super very especially agree that the jog in the last 2 km was almost a deal breaker.

Thanks for reading. Like Michael says, there will be more to follow on this blog (it just may not be 100% running based).

Posted in exercise

Mission Accomplished

Well, it’s all over!  We battled through some cold windy weather to finish the half marathon.  I did it in 2hrs 2min.  I would have really liked to be under 2 hours, but it just wasn’t in the cards.

Here’s a mini diary of event as I recall:

Start: feelt pretty excited.

1km: did this in about 6 min.  A good pace, still felt fine.

4 km: Peter took off.  I stayed with him for a bit because I thought he was just trying to get out of a crowded pack of runners.  I was wrong. He was just running faster than me.

7km: First rest station.  Felt pretty good.  I was on what I thought was a good pace.  I ate a powergel and had a small cup of gatorade while I walked for a minute.

8-13km: This section was a little tough.  It is sort of the vague middle part of the race.  I felt generally ok, but tired, and wasn’t into the ‘hey, I’m almost there’ part that makes it a bit easier.  At one point I felt crowded, so I jumped out into the road and sprinted for a few moments.  Around 13km it becomes a bit easier to stay motivated because the kilometer count down is on.

14km: I spot a porta-potty ahead.  I need to pee, so I sprint ahead and jump in.  I was pleasantly surprised by how easily I was able to sprint.

15km: 2nd rest station.  Had some powergel and two waters.  I walked for a minute.  It was pretty hard to get going again.  For a few minutes I had some cramps, but they went away pretty quickly.  I was a bit more troubled by the hills.  There were a lot more hills than I anticipated.  None were particularly steep, but there were a lot of them.  London is pretty flat and I’m not used to this.

16km: Some left knee pain.  Feeling tired, but mentally preparing myself for a strong push tot he finish.  I forget my exact time, but a sub-2hour run seemed very possible.

17km: OK, this is were it got tough.  I was pretty happy because 4km left didn’t seem like that much.  At this point I had to really concentrate on running and not just sort of plodding.  I was reasonably successful.

18km.  Very unhappy.  I had a sore knee.  It was very windy.  I really had to imagine happy thoughts of finishing to keep going.  The idea that I should walk for a while entered my head.  I checked my watch and a 2hour time still seemed possible.

19: Pretty miserable.  Turned the last corner a knew I was getting close.  I really tried my hardest to run fast, but the wind really picked up and really slowed me down.  I felt that I was close to the finish line, but thought that it seemed too close. ….

19.5 ish. There was a bonus loop through a parking lot.  I was pretty unhappy to see this diversion when I could see the finish line on the horizon.  I gave the police and marathon staff a disgusted look to let them know how I felt.  I wonder how often they got that look?

21: Through the loop, and headed for home.  I was very, very tired at this point and sadly watched my watch click to 1hour 59min and knew I wouldn’t make it.  I turned the corner and saw my cheering section.  I gave them a wave, and they cheered me on.  Lifted by this, I was determined to finish well.  I spotted a guy ahead of me who had passed me around 16km.  I immediately ‘sprinted’ as hard as I could to get ahead of him.  Again I was surprised how well I did.  I ran to the end and beat him easily.  I could hear a guy shout ‘That’s it, you can do it! Race right to the end!’.  It really pushed me.

Finished!!! I did it, they gave me a medal and some kid mumbled something which I eventually figured out meant ‘please give me your time chip.’  I grabbed some water and went to see my family.

I wish I could have done it a bit faster.  Three times in the race I was able to pretty easily run much faster than everyone around me.  I need to work on my overall speed. It is pretty obvious that I could run faster if I just worked a little harder on the mental part of running.

I spent the rest of the day with Eleanor.  We went out and did some shopping to get ready for the baby.  Now, (8hours after the race), I’m a bit stiff and my right knee is sore.  I’m going to stretch a bit and then ice it.

What’s next?  At this moment I’m definitely on a high about the whole experience.  Running a full marathon seems really, really, really, really hard, but I’m up for a half again.  Now that I’ve done it once, I’d like to try again so I can get a better time.  I think I’ll try again in the fall.

Thanks very much to everyone who supported me in this.   I won’t name names here, but a lot of people gave me some good advice and encouraged me when I had doubts.  Thanks!

ps.  As mentioned yesterday,  this blog will continue in one form or another, so stay tuned.

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