Mission Impossible: Rogue State

We watched the latest Mission Impossible film in Imax, in the third row from the screen, in a freezing cold theatre. I can’t recommend this. You’ll put your neck out, and in close-up Imax format you’ll spend more time remarking to yourself on how Jeremy Renner looks like a potato, it appears Alec Baldwin’s head and neck have fused together, and Tom Cruise’s flesh has begun to rot. These are things that once seen cannot be unseen.

Aside from that and the INCREDIBLY LOUD SOUNDTRACK it’s an enjoyable two hours, although the fight scenes are incomprehensible. Maybe if we were further from the screen we could see what was going on. It’s strange to think how long Tom Cruise has starred in Mission Impossible films: longer than Connery in the Bond films. He was showing his age in the last one and he’s continuing to shrivel up now. Maybe the Scientology isn’t working after all.

It’s a very predictable film. Every cross, double cross and disguise is visible from a mile off, but then hey – it’s nice to get what you pay for…

Happy Anniversary

Today was our fourth wedding anniversary. I’d planned carefully for this; or rather, the last time I was in Hong Kong, in between accidentally smacking my daughter’s head into a ceiling and getting on a plane, I remembered to buy my wife a present. A present I managed to hide in my sock drawer for a good three months. But it didn’t stop there. In the evening, after the children were safely in bed, we had a romantic dinner. Or rather, we ordered in pizza and Coke and then glazed over, watching a movie on my laptop. Could our fifth anniversary do anything to eclipse this level of excitement?

Butterball Destroyer has been drinking formula milk for three days now, and as a result stinks. The stench that La Serpiente produces can be pretty strong at times, but the godawful smell from formula surpasseth human comprehension. Walking into the bedroom is like being punched in the face with a mouldy boxing glove. Hopefully this experiment concludes soon and we can get her back on clean burning breast milk instead.

That may leave some formula powder left over. I think I’ll put that on my breakfast yoghurt. Waste not, want not, after all.

Spinning, pumping, etc

I had another spinning class today. I also had about 5 hours sleep (La Serpiente woke up just after midnight and kicked off) so I wasn’t expecting to do very well. It was another hard class – lots of standing up and constantly being exhorted to up the resistance on the bike while pedalling much too fast. However, even if I was weeping near the end (it’s good that I sweat so much that these incriminating tears are invisible) it did take me out of my space for 45 minutes, and on the way back to reality I had an avocado smoothie, which I assume counteracts some of the abuse I’ve meted out to my body recently (crisps here, cheese there, booze almost everywhere…)
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Tummy time

Because we’re disorganised parents and have to pander to our firstborn, we don’t get as many opportunities to inflict tummy time on Butterball Destroyer.

For the non-parents among you, or those of you whose youngest children are more than a year old so you’ve had time to forget all about it, tummy time is when you torture your young child by lying it on its stomach. For the first few months, the child’s neck muscles aren’t strong enough for it to lift its head up, and you get the chance to jeer and laugh at your progeny’s pathetic attempts to pull its face out of the floor and look around.

Ahem. You aid your child’s development by making sure it gets a good amount of exercise for its neck muscles, so it is capable of looking around on its own and not having a head that flops everywhere at random.
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After the storm

We were broken by the kids this morning. La Serpiente went on a milk run about four a.m. and I didn’t have the willpower to stop her, and then she didn’t want to return to her bed, and then Butterball Destroyer started emitting her best impression of an air raid siren, so I took her for a walk. I hope she grows up to realise the sacrifices we’ve made. Locating a pair of trousers at silly o’clock isn’t the simplest of tasks.

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Games Night

This evening, we had friends round to play board games. Unfortunately, we’d been to a party in the afternoon and La Serpiente had gone loopy after eating a couple of blue M&Ms. (We put this down to a reaction to sugar, or colourings, or something, and if she ate sweets more often, maybe she’d be inured to their effects. But then she’d be eating sweets more often…)

Still, after going loopy for a while, she went to sleep surprisingly easily (we read three books and then I drew her pictures of puppies and turtles as she requested, until she pulled her stuffed toys over her face and went to sleep). I ducked out to purchase cheese and salty nibbles, and got home just before our guests arrived.

We played Blokus for an hour. Blokus is like competitive Tetris for four people, but designed to be more aggravating, so it’s always a victory when it doesn’t end in a punch up.
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Marathon simulation

After more than half a year, somebody else agreed with me that Matt Fitzgerald’s concept of a marathon simulation is a little unclear in 80/20 Running. Here’s an attempt to add some clarity: (although as this is the opinion of a Person On The Internet, you may take it with as much of a pinch of salt as you feel necessary. Or post enraged disagreement in the comments of this blog)

You need to be ready
You need to run your simulation when you’re race-fit; it should be a few weeks prior to the race – much further back and you won’t be peaking, much closer and it will wear you out too much before the race itself.

You need the same gear

You never want to do something in a race for the first time, rather than having tested it out while training. So the simulation run should include the same clothes, the same footwear, the same drinks, food, revolting gels, hair cut as you’re using in the actual race. Footwear is particularly important because the volumes you’ll do in training will tend to wear out shoes (and they’ll stink), but you probably shouldn’t be stepping into a box-fresh pair on the day of the race, only to find they aren’t quite what you were expecting.

You need the same course

Try to make sure that the terrain you’re running your simulation on is similar to what the race will be. For example, there’s a big hill at the 37th km in the Osaka marathon. The first time I trained for this, all my training was on the pancake-flat jogging paths of Singapore’s Park Connector network. Suffice it to say, walking up that hill while weeping wasn’t one of my happiest moments.

Depending on where you live and where the marathon is, that may be simple or difficult. Singapore has a few minor hills which makes practicing for hilly marathons more challenging. It also has ludicrous heat and humidity, but you can’t safely assume that if you can cope with the heat and the humidity, you automatically get a power-up when you run anywhere cooler and drier. (Eg when I went and ran at altitude in Boulder, I was just schooled in another form of physical incompetence.)

Oh, and if the race is at midnight, try and do a run around the same time. Fairly obvious, but may not be very practical.

You need less distance

Almost contradicting the previous point, you don’t simulate the marathon by running 26.2 miles. That isn’t a simulation. (I did read in Bowerman of training runs the athletes did of more than marathon distance, but that just seems mental.) My sense (and it needs testing) is that the best distance to run to shake things down properly, without wrecking yourself, is about a half marathon distance. But with the following condition:

You need to be similarly fatigued

The hard part of most marathons is the second half, when you’re knackered and trying to push through. So your simulation run should be on the Sunday, after you’ve done a fairly hard, long run on the Saturday to toughen yourself up. I’d recommend 10 miles on Saturday at race pace, and then 13.1 miles on Sunday at race pace. That should simulate things good and proper. If you can’t do 23.1 miles over two days, you’re probably not adequately prepared for the marathon. Adjust your pace if that’s the case, or otherwise change your expectations.

You need to run the same speed
And here is the hard bit that Fitzgerald didn’t specify – if you’re running your easy runs at 5:40 km pace, and your hard runs at 4:40, what should be your marathon pace?

You might have a rule of thumb like “race pace should be recovery pace – 30 seconds per kilometre” but then you could spend a lot of time worrying about whether that was fast enough. But we don’t need to worry – we have McMillan’s Race Pace Calculator. What you could then do is a 5k session as one of your hard sessions in a week close to the simulation, and then plug your 5k time in and see what that predicts for your marathon pace.

And then hope. You always have to hope…