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Dec. 26th, 2014

A little behind in my run reporting here...but it's Christmas and I am on HOLIDAY (as in I even disabled my work email account on my mobile devices and closed the client on my laptop) so here is a giant catch-up.

end of term, running in Venice )

On Monday, proper marathon training kicked off. Weird but true: it's kind of a relief to start. I have put myself firmly back into the hands of the U&R coach, Julia, and she tells me when to run and how fast to run and I just go do it (okay, sometimes I go *gulp* first) and I know that I'll give it my best shot and it will all be fine. I know there are some pretty mind-bendingly hard runs ahead of me, but all I can do is try, right?

As it happens I'm starting marathon training on roads that are pretty unfamiliar to me, in the city of Leamington Spa where Mike grew up. It isn't exactly flat here in the Midlands, although there aren't mountains or anything. Last time I ran around here, two Christmases ago, 3K was a really long way. Funny how things change.

I was super tired when I woke up on Monday, but I was also on a fairly tight schedule to get to Oxford in time to have lunch with a Byzantinist colleague I was introduced to over email, so I had to drag myself out the door first thing. Mercifully, it wasn't quite first thing - the sun doesn't rise until after 8am so that gave me a good 30-45 minutes of having a great excuse to just sit there for a few minutes longer. But I went, and managed not to get lost, and found the hill that Mike had suggested for strides. I mis-programmed my Garmin so that it thought I was doing 2 reps instead of 10, so I had to do my own accounting for the following 8. It's just as well I'm so good with numbers, because the method of going down the alphabet totally doesn't work for me - I tried, but would only hold onto (e.g.) thinking about the 'E' animal for about 1/3 of the hill before my mind wandered, and if I remembered it all the way to the top then it was guaranteed to be gone by the bottom. Also not helped by my simultaneously trying to keep count and plan out what the next few animals in the alphabetic sequence should be. In the end it was far easier for me to do the math from the lap counter on the Garmin.

And then I got home, showered, rushed off to Oxford...and realized that I'd got the lunch appointment wrong - it was meant to be Tuesday, not Monday!! So I stuffed my face at Nando's (since I hadn't had time for breakfast) and spent the next few hours in the library photographing entries in a series of Armenian manuscript catalogues that I can't get my hands on elsewhere - one of my side projects for a while now has been to collect every published manuscript colophon (i.e. notes by scribes) from before 1250, so that I can translate them and collect them in a DB and use them as a nice little historical source. It was just as well that I'd screwed up the lunch appointment, since I only got through half the catalogues in the time I had available.

Which meant that Tuesday was basically a sort of Groundhog Day. Wake up, run, go to Oxford. The main feature of this run was 3x3km in progression (meaning I should be gradually increasing my speed from beginning to end) and this time I tried out the towpath of the canal that runs through Leamington. That worked pretty well, although the bridges over the towpath are low enough that I had to duck a bit. People were just short a century ago, I guess!

Then to Oxford, again. I went a little earlier this time with a hope of getting a headstart on the remaining catalogue work, and coming back earlier, but when I walked up to the library lots of people were standing outside looking cold, because yep, the fire alarm had gone off. By the time we were let back in, I had just enough time to discover that the reading room I needed had closed a day early, unexpectedly, and to find out who I needed to beg to get the remaining catalogues from the closed reading room so that I could finish my job. A damn good thing I got there early, even though I didn't get back to Leamington until about the same time as before. By the time I returned, the brothers-in-law had arrived with their families, and Sophie really wanted some attention from her ever-disappearing mummy.

Julia gave me a Christmas present of two rest days in a row (I wager that won't happen again until April) so yesterday morning I got Mike to drive me up to Coventry where there is a running shop. I love my On shoes dearly, but they are eye-wateringly expensive for a shoe that doesn't ever seem to last more than about 400-450km. At the expo for the Silvesterlauf I had spoken to the representative at their booth, who confirmed that they are much more durable for heel-strikers, but for midfoot- or forefoot-strikers they do wear out in just about exactly the sort of distance I had noticed. So I've been thinking of looking for a normal running shoe that is fairly lightweight, and see how I do in it. Which is how I came away with a pair of Saucony Fastwitch 6 shoes. I also liked the feel of the Asics Gel DS Racers that I tried, but in the first place they are EXACTLY the same model and color as Mike's racing shoes, and in the second place he told me that they are nice to run in (confirmed) but pretty bad for picking up gravel along the river trail at home. So I'll keep them in mind but will try the Sauconys meanwhile.

And then it was a full (mad)house for Christmas here ever since. I went out this morning for an easy hour - 9.75km - to run off some of the enormous feast, and to try out the new shoes. The shoes felt pretty good (though I've got some nagging ankle pain that has been with me since Wednesday) but I've pretty much eaten all of that back over the course of today, so I guess I'll have to do Parkrun tomorrow too...?

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