Thursday, May 26, 2005

Smugness alert

On Monday, I went for my first run with the boyfriend.

The D. B's been highly impressed with my keeping going to the gym, and has commented that I must be getting very fit (I wish). If you've been paying attention, you might have realised that we haven't actually seen each other since Easter; it felt like absolute years. So I was wondering if he would notice any difference in me.

Well, he said I was looking "trim" and his mum asked if I'd lost weight. My own mother has said she can notice a difference, but hey, she sees me every day, and she could just be trying to be encouraging (I'm not being negative here. I know her). So that was pretty satisfying. On the other hand, I was a bit worried that the boyfriend would overestimate how far and fast I can run...

We set out late on Monday evening, after dark. The D. B. prefers to run in the cool of the evening, but it felt quite different from usual to me. No readouts to tell me how far I had to go – and I didn't know the route we would be doing, which I think made it harder. Every time we crossed a road, he would go a little way in from the corner automatically, but I would think we were turning right (or left) and would carry on round the bend and have to correct myself. Also, I found that going up and down kerbs really interferes with my rhythm! I suppose the treadmill spoils you, because it's perfectly smooth and in a straight line. I'm lucky that this area isn't very hilly, unlike most of Edinburgh.

The weather was cool and quite windy, which I normally don't mind. One disadvantage of cool air, however, is that it brings on my asthma. No, I've never mentioned before that I have asthma, and that's because it really only comes on in the winter when the air is very cold and dry, or if I have an allergic reaction. This winter was so mild that I never had an attack: in fact, I can't remember when I last had one. I carry an inhaler in my handbag, but I've never once needed to use it at the gym. However, by about 10 minutes ino the run on Monday, I was feeling slightly wheezy, so the D. B. gave me a puff of his (yes, we know you're not supposed to do this). Thereafter I was fine.

This was the first road-test for my running shoes. They stood up to it well, although my blister-area did rub slightly on one foot. I'll pad it up more if I go out tonight. There was one disadvantage I hadn't foreseen. Towards the end, we were running on a path that had a slight slope to it from left to right, and my left leg, which was on the higher side of the path, began to feel slightly cramped in the calf muscle. I walked for a little to try to ease this, but it started again when I started running, and when we got back to a level surface, I felt a slight pain in that ankle. I'll have to watch that, although the pain vanished as soon as I stopped running. The D. B. says he's never noticed this effect, so maybe it's just me!

We did go a lot slower than the D. B. would have gone on his own. He kept to my pace, saying he wasn't in the mood for a big workout anyway (the boy is a saint) and slowed to a walk when I did. The course took us 28 minutes (approx.) – it normally takes him 20. Probably about five of those minutes were walking, either for me to catch my breath or on the sloping path.

I hope we'll go out again tonight, although the D. B. is revising for tomorrow's exam at the moment, so it'll be up to him. If he doesn't want to, I may just go and run up and down the street outside for a while! At least I won't get lost...

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Recovery time

Well, that's the longest I've gone without posting. So what happened?

First off, I was ill. I didn't really notice the onset because I had my period and was feeling rotten anyway – although I did notice it was worse than usual. However, when it came to an end and I still felt nauseous, ached all over and had a permanent light headache (which isn't usually one of my symptoms) Mum decreed I should stay off work to recover. So I did, for two days. This might have been a good time to post at length, but firstly, looking at a screen wouldn't have helped the head, and secondly, this coincided with the most beautiful weather we've had this year. So I spent a lot of time in the garden on a blanket. This appeared to do the trick. I went back to work on Friday and then went to the gym as usual, but did come out feeling rather as though I'd overdone it. The next week was rather busy and tiring, mostly because I was trying to catch up with things I hadn't done because I was off work. I've been getting to bed well before midnight and falling asleep as though I'd been switched off, which isn't like me.

The pain in my ribs has mostly died down. Thanks to Rosemary Grace for her suggestion - I think it's probably the right one. I desperately need a new, more supportive sports bra. Should have got one weeks ago, but I've been putting it off. I hate bra-shopping. Really hate it.

I've never had much of a problem finding clothes that fit me (apart from jeans), but bras are a different matter. I wouldn't have thought I have an unusually large, um, chest, but lingerie designers obviously disagree. Most styles in the high street only go up to DD, and as I'm usually E or F, there isn't much to choose from. (The style I bought last time has always been discontinued. That would just make life too easy.) As I head back out of the changing room for the third time, in the vain hope that I might have missed some nice ones round a corner, the saleslady always asks if I want to be measured. I'm not a big fan of being touched by strangers, even when not in my underwear, but sometimes I let her on the grounds that I'm not doing so well finding anything for myself. Usually, I end up trailing after her as she collects every style they carry in my size, even the ones that look like armour-plating or an explosion in a doily factory. There's usually one that fits OK, but the process takes hours.

I always end up feeling like a huge overdeveloped creature. I tell you, in my next life I shall be a B-cup.

Moan over. The better news: I'm back up to 20 minutes run at the gym. I think I've finally solved the blister problem: ordinary fabric plasters over the hot spots, held in place with surgical tape at the sides running from the top of my foot to the instep. I was using Compeed blister protection before, but I think they're better as cure than prevention (they do ease the pain on blisters you already have). The fabric plasters have a bit of give, so they don't pull at the skin underneath.

Notwithstanding the 20 minutes, I think Dietgirl is still going to beat me into the ground when we do the Race for Life:

"On a grassy high school althletics track, I ran one kilometre as per Mistress Julia's instruction and did it in 6:09, which ain't Paul Radcliffe but it was well over a minute and a half faster than the last timed kilometre back in early April. Woo!"

Inspired by this, I kept an eye on the treadmill readout on Friday to see how long it takes me to do a kilometre – 10:17, which isn't going to break any records. I admit I can run faster than that, but not if I want to keep going for 20 minutes. D-Girl has been at it longer than I have and has actually done some proper running outside, which I keep meaning to do but am too much of a wuss.

However, I will have to do it this week, because I'm down in England visiting my D. B. So I can't go to the gym. He goes running himself, and I'm hoping to go with him, which I've never done before. It scares me, quite a lot. He's tall and thin and has long legs, and has been running regularly for a couple of years. I suspect he will slow down to keep me company, but it'll be a bit embarrassing: I don't think he knows quite what a weedy runner I am... So wish me luck.


In other news, I've just finished reading Tom Jones, which I started when ill. It's the perfect invalid reading as it has no plot of any importance and nothing terrible happens. I've also just got my hands on the last of the Dalemark Quartet by Diana Wynne Jones, The Crown of Dalemark. I love those books. They're vaguely in the same genre as Tolkien – a story about liberating your country, set in a fictional world which has a much larger back-story which emerges as you read – but everyone is human and the epic is told through a series of smaller, more intimate stories which follow a few characters at a time. It's all very cleverly done. The books were reprinted in 2003 but now seem to be out of print again in Britain - I had to order them through Blackwells. It was worth the wait.

I also saw The HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy last weekend and enjoyed it, overall, despite having read the book altogether too many times as a teenager (I know, I'm a geek). I used to be outraged when they changed the plot in film adaptations, but here I was OK with it... perhaps because h2g2 has already been through several incarnations and plot changes, and Douglas Adams had a hand in writing the new screenplay, so I know he wouldn't be spinning in his grave. I thought Zaphod was very fine, although I do NOT like what happens to his second head. Yeuccch.

For purposes of comparison, I've been watching the early 80s TV series, repeated by the BBC, and enjoying it hugely. They're all terribly posh and the special effects are... special. Just not effective. Trillian looks like one of Bananarama. But oddly, post-Franz Ferdinand, Ford's clothing no longer looks as outrageous as it would've done. I feel terribly affectionate towards the whole thing.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Faltering forward

Hmmm. Things aren't going too well at the moment.

My running record for the moment stands at nineteen minutes. That was on Friday. On Monday I only managed ten minutes.

I admit, I had decided to go easy on my blistered foot, having taken the dressing off it. But that ten minutes was as hard as the previous week's much longer times. It is quite warm in Edinburgh at the moment, and I don't do well in the heat, being a Real Scot. What's going on? It's only May. Must be global warming.

I went off to do the Nautilus machines, which all felt fine. Then I ran up the stairs to the changing rooms and had... a rush of blood to the head or something. Anyway, I felt sort of dizzy and queasy for a moment and it seemed like a good idea to sit down and put my head on my knees.

At that point several girls came into the changing room and I heard a voice saying "Are you all right?"

I sat up. "Yes, I'm just, um..."Embarrassment always makes me incoherent. I don't really know why I should find dizziness embarrassing, but I do. I fainted for real in Waterstone's once, and even as kind people were helping me up and fetching me a glass of water (and a free muffin) I just wanted to sink through the floor and vanish.

"Are you dehydrated? Are you feeling faint? Do you want to lie down on the floor?" By now, I wasn't feeling all that faint. I was probably a rather odd colour as I was no doubt blushing on top of pinkness from exercising. The girl's motherly air was somewhat incongruous given that she must have been several years younger than I am. Heavens, no, I didn't want to lie down on the floor. I protested that I was fine really, just feeling the heat a bit, had been rushing around too much. This was true. The other denizens of the changing room was watching us by now, possibly hoping that I'd do something interesting, like collapse, or maybe throw up.

She came in with the coup de grĂ¢ce: "Have you had something to eat today?"

Now at school, when we were in our early teens, this was the line that was inevitably trotted out if anyone had a dizzy spell (the next question was always "Is it your time of the month?"). This was probably reasonable enough. Most teenage girls don't starve themselves, but it's a question worth asking.

Even back then, nobody ever asked me that question.

"Oh, yes" I burbled, surprised. "In fact I think my problem's the other way round, I had to eat lunch too soon before coming here - that's probably not the best way to do it..." The rest of the changing room must have really thought I was going to vomit at that point.

The girl gave me some water and, as soon as she was sure I wasn't going to plunge floorwards, trotted off to her class. I sat there drinking it, feeling as though I'd narrowly escaped being sent to Matron for a lie down and a Dextro-Energy tablet.

After I'd had a shower I felt fine. If the girl who gave me her water is reading this, thank you. I didn't mean to be ungrateful, I was just feeling like an idiot!


Of course I had had something to eat, not an hour before. It probably shouldn't have been a cheese and tomato croissant.

The whole low-GI thing hasn't been going too well these past few days. My parents were away for the weekend so it was just my brother and me, and we are not a good influence on each other. The fact that the bro is revising for university exams at the moment is probably partly to blame. Mealtimes were OK: it's just that we tended to eat snacky things which up until now, I've been successfully avoiding.

So I'm a bit cross with myself. It's not as though the weight is dropping off me so fast that I can afford to mess around. In fact, for the last couple of weeks, it hasn't gone anywhere at all - although I'm definitely becoming slightly more toned, so maybe I am losing a bit of fat but gaining muscle.

Another slight annoyance is that I've developed a mysterious slight ache in my lower ribs on the right-hand side. It isn't very painful, but it makes its presence felt when I run or even if I walk for a few minutes. It feels a bit like a stitch - but walking for that short a time doesn't usually give me a stitch. I suppose I could have injured myself... but I'd expect that to hurt whenever I twisted my torso, which it doesn't.

If anyone reading this has a clue as to what could cause this, please comment! Or even if you don't have a clue. I'd like to know if you're there.