Tuesday 28 January 2014

Welcome Back!

Dear readers,
I've had a few weeks away from blogging. I also had a few weeks away from running. 2013 was a somewhat stressful and crazy year for us and I was feeling burnt out and exhausted.
In 2013, Lachlan, Henry and I moved from Shanghai to Hong Kong. While the life is a lot better for our family in Hong Kong, it was not an easy move and there are still a lot of things we miss about Shanghai. In particular, Shanghai's diversity is hard to beat. While it's a lot easier living in Hong Kong on a day-to-day basis, it's certainly not as rich or fulfilling an experience - I can't step out the door and everyday learn something new. And again, I really miss our friends. There is nothing like the bonding experience of having your first baby in mainland China. I met so many amazing people (other mums, my bosses at Spinback Fitness, our driver Xiao Yu, Ayi and my Chinese teacher Cathy)  and so saying goodbye was hard. I still miss these people terribly!
Making the adjustment to living in a new city was not easy. Starting all over again, for the second time in two years was also not easy.
I also made the decision to return to part-time work. This was a lot more challenging than I had hoped. Having very little work experience in Hong Kong, trying to break into a market where there is practically no concept of part-time work was demoralising.  However, watch this space! I have secured a few writing gigs that I'm really excited about, and I have other plans I'm looking forward to sharing with you.
I also ran three marathons - in Nagano, Berlin and Taipei. As you all know, I LOVE running, but training for a marathon certainly takes its toll. By the 15 December, I felt worn out and my body was sore.
And Lachlan travelled a lot. This was not always easy - for any of us. While it's wonderful to have this amazing expat experience, it does at times come at a price.
I felt I needed a little break.
However, I've had the chance to refresh and re-prioritise. While I may not blog everyday (it was becoming a little obsessive) I'll still have tonnes of great things to share with you. I love hearing your comments and sharing our adventures. 2014 is going to be bigger than ever!
This time last year we took my baby sister to the Harbin Ice Festival. It got down to minus 30 degrees celsius. It was so cold, and I HATE the cold. It's hard to believe how much has happened since then!
Henry and his best buddy in Shanghai. These two had plans to get married in Uruguay. We miss her (and her mum) so much!
This is when we first arrived in Hong Kong; our house in Stanley
And then we moved to Disco Bay. It's the first time I've ever moved house by ferry!
Family holiday to Hawaii. I am happy to be flown in an 8 seater plan by this pilot any day. He was a total rockstar! 
We were so lucky to have my brother Eddie and his lovely girlfriend Sunny visit us.
The star of Dim Sum and Long Runs - exhausted after swimming.
My heart melts; he was so proud of himself in his soccer uniform.
Rockin the stay-at-home-mum gig; here are the Elmo, Cookie Monster and Big Bird cakes that I made for Henry's 2nd birthday.
Playing dress-ups in the backyard.
At the start of Nagano Marathon, April 2013. This was not a happy day. We'd moved to Hong Kong three weeks before, I was so injured I was having trouble walking  let alone running, and then the night before the race temperatures dropped to minus 8 degrees celsius. Did I mention I hate the cold? It snowed the entire race!
My first race in Hong Kong with the KipMovin team!
Some of my other Hong Kong family; us Team Italia girls like it up on the podium!
Post race misery and pain in Berlin.
The start of Taipei Marathon: a much happier day!
New Year's Eve Normandy Style: We know how to party!

Saturday 4 January 2014

How to run a sub 2.50 marathon

Because in the not-too-distant future I would like to run a sub 2.50 (or quicker than that even) marathon, I thought it might be useful to put together a guide on how to do so.
Of course, this is something I am yet to achieve, so just like medical advice that is given by a lawyer. this information is not to be relied upon. Quite the contrary, my best time for the marathon so far is 2.59 which I ran in Berlin in September 2013. More recently, I ran 3.02 in Taipei in December 2013. As such, if anything, perhaps you'd be better not only not relying on what I say, but instead advising me on how to achieve my dream.
Of course, being a runner, I know quite a few people who run a lot faster than 2.50. For example, my coach, Thomas in his debut marathon ran 2.21. He has since run faster, but I feel even his debut time is not something to be sneezed at.
Similarly, I have lots of friends in Hong Kong, including female friends who've smashed the 2.50 mark. Needless to say, they are my idols.
As such, while my coach and running colleagues are great sources of information, because I am right now in rural France, I have had to rely on the very informative internet as to how to achieve this dream.
Fortunately, there are both a ton of people who've run sub 2.50, and in addition, a ton of those people have written guides on how to do so yourself.

Here are some of the best;

1. Don't go the wrong way; this seems like a good tip. 42.2km is far enough to run! Another good tip from the same blog is to be confident. For example, you should start by trying to psych out your competition before the gun goes so that you beat them;

  • Doing some really weird stretches that no one has ever seen before
  • Putting your Garmin around your ankle
  • Going up to people and saying “well obviously you know who I am, what is your name?”
  • Gregorian Chanting
I must confess, I've been guilty of this kind of "psyching out" behaviour - at least in 10km races. Loudly and brashly asking those around me what the course record is, and saying I thought I could smash it, certainly got me a few funny looks. 
Another good psych out tip to use during ironman race briefings is to put up your hand when the questions section comes up, and ask, "what do you get when you win?"

2. Stop being such a sissy (ok, I paraphrased that, but in essence this seems to be the underlying message from this blog). The writer goes on to say that, 
(Running fast) can be taught regardless what ability level you are currently at but you have to understand, people who do things at the elite level aren’t any more special than you. I want to be very clear with this.
The difference lies in their attention span not diminishing in the face of adversity. Do you want to know the difference?
What you think of as pain, elite athletes think of as pleasure. You switch those two mindsets and you will be well on your way to do drastic improvement in your marathon times.

I've got to say, I'm not sure that I entirely agree with this. I kind of think that actually Paula and Kara and all the other female elites who are sponsored by Nike and the rest, are actually a bit more special than me. They possess an innate natural ability that I just don't. I'm sure they also train a hell of a lot harder, but there is still no accounting for talent. Still, I guess it could just be that I'm weak in the head and need to toughen up
3. High volume - do it.  
"The way I ran 2.59 marathon was with high volume. However looking back I'm sure I did way too much and in turn went in to the Marathon very tired, just scrapping through under 3hrs! It was a disgusting pain from about 16miles and I think the only reason I did it was because for some reason I've never been so determined!

While this blogger only got to 2.59, I think the principal still stands.  Essentially, it sounds like he might have run even faster if he wasn't exhausted. I think the real tip to take from this is don't get exhausted. I'm not sure how to achieve this though. It's a little like saying, "don't get injured". Of course, you can do things to prevent either scenario, but you certainly can't guarantee it won't happen. 

4. Don't do too much volume and stay relaxed. 
You simply have to believe the advice of 2.31 marathoner, 2.59 ironman marathoner and Spinervals GOD Troy Jacobson if for no reason other than that, when it comes to riding the indoor trainer, he's the man. 
One of his goals was to run a sub 3 hour marathon off the bike in ironman (i.e after a 3.8km swim, and 180km) . Having run very close to 3 hours several times in an ironman, he thought it would be easy. He  discovered he was wrong. (Really? No way!) It took him quite a few attempts to break the 3 hour mark. He gives great tips on getting your already relatively speedy marathon time down, and importantly, tips that help shave off those crucial last few minutes. 
Some of my favourites are to stay relaxed and keep the bounce in your step. My coach is always on at me to stay relaxed, even when I'm about to vomit, Thomas is like, "relax Jane, relax". Haha. I find in a marathon if I relax, I stop. 
Though I get pretty nervous pre-race, I'm not the only person pre-race that doesn't feel relaxed. For example,  at the start-line of Berlin marathon, a guy next to me retied his shoelaces about twenty times. He was shaking badly as he did so. While I felt sorry for him, it also helped me feel a bit netter knowing that I'm not the only one who gets nervous. 

5. Don't vomit and keep your clothes on.
These are very good tips. Especially since they were given in the context of what to do - or what not to do - on the start line.  If you have time to read it, this is a great guide by an inspiring mum who ran a 2.48 marathon (my dream for this year!) I especially like that her makeup still seems intact at the end of the race. Talk about racing like a lady! Or maybe her cheeks are just rosy, either-way, she looks pretty fresh. Inspiring, and makes you think that it's possible if you work hard enough. 

In summary, it's very simple to run a sub 2.50 marathon;
Go the right way while not vomiting on yourself (easier said than done);
Run a lot but not too much;
Stay relaxed while you embrace the pain. 

Having this information, I can't believe I haven't run sub 2.50 already. Now to just start training.... 

For more hilarious motivational marathon signs, try this link.

Wednesday 1 January 2014

So ghetto

This time last year, Lachlan, Henry and I spent our first Christmas in our house in wet and windy Normandy. Lachlan thought that he was being hilarious when one day he came back from the shops, having spent a not inconsiderable sum of money on an adidas tracky for Henry.
To put it politely, Henry looked like a bogan. At least he fit in with the locals!

This year, Santa went one better.

Check it out.

If you are interested in French fashion, you may also like
Shopping in rural France, and Henry's take on French fashion

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year all!
What are you up to?
I know lots of interesting people in lots of interesting places are doing some really cool things!
My friends from Shanghai - Jon and Jen - are getting married in the UK. Have a GREAT one guys!
My friend Lisa is 8.5 months pregnant in WA. I don't envy you Lis, but it will all be worth it. Good luck and thinking of you!
My friend Jordana in Sydney has a balcony to to watch the fireworks.
My friend Kate in Hong Kong is celebrating with pie... I like that idea!
My brother Edward went surfing at Bells Beach. Looks amazing!
Lachlan, Henry and I went to Ikea in Rennes in rural France. Henry loved it because we hired a truck. Lachlan liked the hotdog, but was less impressed by the overall adventure.
Eating chocolate brioche, loving the truck ride!
Henry tried to steal this dog from Ikea. 
Good hotdog, bad trip?
Now, we are back at our house in Normandy. It is wet and cold and it's going to be a very quite celebration here. We will celebrate with champagne, and I'm home-making aioli and bouillabaisse. Because of the time difference, we've already seen midnight in Hong Kong. That will have to be enough because I don't think we will see midnight in France!

Have a Happy New Year all!