Peeping gnome's
running adventures

Rain, rain and some more rain

Yesterday we went to Modena to see the osteopath. Ale was hoping he’d be able to just fix him, I guess, but the truth is, the problem with his knee is liquid behind the tendons that needs to be re-absorbed, so he’ll just have to sit on his ass for 20 days. He’s not happy, but he’s also starting to see LochNess coming his way, so he’s willing to actually rest.
He also worked on my back and foot and it’s great to see that now I’m able to actually know what works and what doesn’t in my body and most of all I’m able to take care of it myself for the most part.
We also had coffee with Julia and then we headed back to Vicenza, where I was scheduled for my run.

While we were driving in the highway it started raining, than it started REALLY raining, then it got worse and worse.

(nothing like italian summers…)

0km from home we saw the civil protection truck with a freaking boat attached to the side! Because of what happened last november, we thought they were being overly careful, but apparently the river overflew in several places. There has been only one casualty (a guy who got stuck in an underground garage in Verona and drowned), but it definitely wasn’t running weather.

So I set my alarm clock at 6am today and when I woke up it was still raining cats and dogs.
After googling to see how much rain would be “too much rain for running” and reading that thunders and lightnings + overflowing manholes in fact do qualify, I freaked out a little bit. I cannot use the spin bike because each time I do my left knee hurts like hell after 30 minutes and then I can’t run for 2 days and tonight I’ll be having a portfolio reading for young photographers, so I’ll be stuck on a chair.

What to do? What to do? Go back to bed? Try the spin bike anyway? Do yoga? It looked like the rain was a little a little less, now, should I go out anyway and just suck it up?
After 10 minutes I decided that if Zatopek could run in place when he had to, so could I (minus the winter boots and the wife on my shoulders). I didn’t have much time to put together a proper workout, and I decided I’d rather spend my time moving my body around than researching the Internet for the perfect interval training circuit of some sort.

So I headed to the basement and did the following:
- about 15 minutes of going up and down the last step of my stairs, moving my arms around and lifting my knees, at a speedy pace.
- about 10 minutes of alternating jumping jacks and running in place.
- about 10 minutes skipping rope (about 1 minute jumping- 20″ rest)

While I was trying to understand if this could be considered enough to make up for a lost run, I realized I was dripping sweat on the floor and my legs felt like mush, so I decided it was at least better than the “go back to sleep” option and finally headed to the shower.

Continue Reading → 0 Comments

Spreadsheets and stiff calves

Since nothing says “I’m serious about this” like a good old spread sheet, I put together a document to track my training/sleep/food in one place and see how things correlate. This false feeling of having things under control is always soothing, especially when everything else around me goes tits up and I end up spending 26 hours in a row in my studio, working like a slave.

Sunday run recap:
50′ run + 3x 1km (rest 3′)
Distance covered:
12.04 km
sunny, 18°C- humidity 64%

The weather was amazingly nice: sunny, but with a light breeze and intense blue sky with puffy white clouds here and there. And since it’s been raining so much lately, everything is green and beautiful. There were lots of people out running or cycling and I’m starting to spot female runners!  Actual runners, not just power walkers or way overdressed high school girls shuffling with their hoodies up trying to lose weight who will be gone in two weeks.
I decided not to look at my garmin and just focus on finding a nice pace, pushing back the street with my feet, keeping my back straight and it took me very little to just get lost in the beauty of this sunday morning.
I knew I was kicking ass even without looking at my pace: I could feel I wasn’t going slowly, but my legs were completely fine and I was totally loving it, so I decided I’d slow down if I needed to, but let my legs go as they pleased.

These are my splits for the 50 minutes *high fiving a million angels*

The 1k repeats were run in 5:50 – 5:44 – 5:29, which I’m really pleased with

Tuesday run recap:
30′ run + 6x (100mt skipping, 100mt knee high, 100mt butt kicks)
Distance covered:
6.8 km
sunny, 11°C- humidity 94%

Drills were tough. Kicking my own butt for 100mt qualify as the longest 100mt I ever ran.
At some point I was making little whiny noises while doing drills (imagine a piglet squealing. Creepiest thing is that I didn’t realize I was making such noise for a while), but I completed the whole thing, which made me super proud. Spent the rest of the day drunk with endorphins and woke up this morning with wooden calves *ouch*

Trying to decide whether to run tonight too, since I’m not sure I’ll be able to do that tomorrow, and friday might be too close to sunday’s 10k

Continue Reading → 2 Comments


So, I’ve been doing all these exercises to balance out my right and left size, I decided it was time to do the same visually. Still about 4-5 hours of work to put into this baby, but I’m in love with it

Continue Reading → 0 Comments

Nice and Easy

Today’s workout:
20′ run + 10x (10 half squats + 100 mt strides) + 3′ stretch + 10′ run

Distance covered:
6.14 km


sunny, 15°C- humidity 88%

the left knee felt a bit off during the squats, but that’s because my left foot feels stiff and full of knots. Need to tennis ball it with more care. Remember to push forward and not reach forward, most of all I had to remind myself to push at the hips and not with my shoulders a couple of times.
But I just loved being out there and getting to run the first 20′ with Ale (poor bastard’s still sidetracked).
What I loved about today:
The weather was lovely. Ale got to run with me for the first 20 minutes (he went to the physio guy yesterday and needed to run 3k to make sure the leg was fine. Apparently it was better. Apparently his problems with the knee are a lot related to stiff calves). Running after Bologna, with all the marathon talking that has been going on, feels a bit different: it’s like I run with more purpose and I want to make each and every workout count.
I’ll be running the Avon Running 10k in two weeks and I’d really try to go around 1 hour for that. Don’t know if I’m there yet, I won’t be crushed if I don’t, but let’s start actually putting what I want out there

Continue Reading → 0 Comments

Back to business

So, it’s been a while. I have five wisdom teeth less than I had before (yup, five. And one of the extractions happened during an earthquake, just to make things a little more exciting) but now I finally have a functioning shoulder and I had to build things from the bottom up.

There have been a lot of mobility exercises and my right side is slowly catching up with my left side.
This weekend I was back in Bologna for the Julia Jones Running Festival, where I had the chance to meet again with some fellow Up&Runners and it was truly amazing.
Nothing like a bunch of awesome women to remind me why I love running.
I’m finally back over 10k again and I truly enjoyed every step I took.
In less than a month I’ll be officially starting marathon training and getting to meet Valeria Straneo in person was definitely a treat. Let’s hope some of her awesomeness (as a runner and as a person) rubbed off on me.

Continue Reading → 0 Comments

Screaming calves and uncooperative back

so let me give you some advice: when you don’t normally run in minimal shoes and then you decide to do that and you read everybody talking about the importance of building up your mileage slowly… you should kind of listen to that.
In the last few days each time I sat down for more than 30 minutes my calved would go back to turning into stone. I just need to give it 5 minutes and walk really carefully until they respond again, but the only way to move from point A to point B quickly and efficiently has been to slide my legs sideways keeping them half squatted, like a crab.
Adding into the picture my lower back pain (due to wisdom teeth), I’m so sexy when I walk I’m amazed I don’t cause car crashes.

Tomorrow the dentist is going to decide what to do with me and when. At this point I’m actually looking forward to it (and I plan to be drugged all the way during the procedure anyway)

Continue Reading → 1 Comment

Running updates

On tuesday I did a 15′ warmup followed by 5x 100 mt strides and 15′ run (which ended up being 10′ because then the leg was starting to behave).
Ale only got to do the 15 minutes warmup before having to walk home. The poor thing! I’ve never seen him this miserable. He’s been reading about knee stuff every day, he’s stretching like a madman and he’s scared to death he might have ITband syndrome, which is so not him. I’m the one self-diagnosing weird stuff looking for symptoms on google! There are roles in this family!

He got to the point he confessed thinking about booking an appointment with the osteoguy (to give you an idea about how serious this is: I had to tell him I wasn’t going to marry him unless he would see a doctor for a checkup, which he hadn’t had in 20 years)

Yesterday morning I decided to wash the shoes of death because having them in the house was starting to be an issue. I thought they would have been dry by the evening, but they weren’t.
What to do?
The new shoes are half a size too big (damned be Mizuno for making a shoe larger than the previous model: how am I supposed to know this shit? Shouldn’t size be something that makes sense when compared to a foot?), the old shoes were wet. Running in both didn’t seem ideal.
Then I remembered I do have a pair of NB minimus, that I walk in all the time. I wasn’t planning on doing a long run anyway, so I might as well try them.
I knew I was signing in for something I might regret later, but what the hell. Let’s have an adventure, I thought.
Running in those was pretty weird and for the first km I wasn’t really sure what I was doing. It felt really slow (but apparently it wasn’t at all!) and it made me realize I should concentrate on my form more when I run with normal shoes, as I do tend to heel stride a little bit.
Ale decided to follow me on his bike (if I can’t run I might as well watch you run) and kept taking pictures with his iphone.


After the first 15 minutes I was feeling great. Then I had 5x (4.30′ run + 30″ skip) and that’s when my calves started to promise revenge. They didn’t hurt at all, they just were the kind of tired you know is going to turn into pain the day after.
I considered stopping, but it was symmetrical and it’s been a while since I had one of those training sessions, which makes me think I’m holding back.
So I decided that I wanted to finish the workout.

I made sure I foamrolled my calves afterwards and I massaged arnica oil after my shower.
Then I did my back stretching sequence and apparently fell asleep while doing it. Ale was still taking pictures with his iphone


So yeah… I’m such and elite athlete.

Continue Reading → 0 Comments

the big M

We picked our first marathon.

Ale wants a nice scenery and nature, I want to have enough people and a civilization close at hand. We wanted something that could be fun and close enough that it wouldn’t be uber expensive.
After these few days in Bologna, I don’t have a shadow of a doubt: this race is so perfect for me it’s almost too good to be true:

*drumroll, please*
Loch Ness 2013

• It has amazing reviews
• I can photoshop Nessie into every single picture
• Men running in kilts
• It could be a good occasion to meet again (or meet for the first time) some of the Scots Up&Runner.
• the medal is really cool
• september 2013 I’ll be 35. It’s going to be a nice way to celebrate
• It’s going to be cooler than it is in Italy, so I’ll get to train hard and enjoy race day
• the scenery seems amazing
• I can photoshop Nessie into every single picture (I know I said that already, but still!)
• I have never visited Scotland and I always wanted to

So now I have a long term goal, a short term goal (get my wisdom teeth taken care of and be back on half marathon training and run a couple of halfs in the fall) and I can’t wait to get there!

Continue Reading → 0 Comments

JJ running festival 10k

I was really, really nervous about this race.
Because there would be Julia and Shauna and a whole bunch of up&runners (and the desire not to disappoint them, after all the work they have put into making a runner out of me).
Because, in the last few weeks, life has been a little rocky and it was the first time I felt like I wasn’t properly trained before a race.
Because during the bootcamp on friday, my leg started bothering me after about 30 minutes and I really wasn’t sure I would be able to run the whole thing.
Most of all because I offered to pace Tessa for her first 10k and I really REALLY wanted her to have a great run and have fun and enjoy it and have a good memory of it.

group shot before the race!

Tessa had told me she was aiming for a sub-70, but after looking at her during the bootcamp I was pretty sure she could run a little bit faster than that, so my plan was to start at 7 minutes per km (which I needed for myself, to make sure everything was fine with my leg) and then after a couple of warm-up km, I’d try to eat a few seconds each km and run in a slight progression. I had a number in mind, and that was 65 (and I think this was her secret goal too, that one we all have before a race and don’t say aloud because it seems a bit crazy)
Luckily for me, her Garmin wasn’t working, so she wouldn’t be able to check the pace during the whole thing.
To be fair, I think my only contribution to her race was to slow her down at the start and force her to run the first couple of km a bit slower than she would have done by herself.

Then the thought of making sure I was letting her pick her own pace, that she was aware of being awesome and that she was using the slight downhills to recover from the slight uphills (she’s from pancake-flat land, after all, she’s not used to hills…) made me completely forget about my leg and my fears. We exchanged a few sentences here and there and ran for another girl for a while. Tessa made someone’s day by commenting on her calves, I made sure I was keeping an eye for the signs.

We got to see Rhiannon running by us with her shampoo-advertisement-bouncy-ponytail and near the end, right where we were starting to be a little tired, we got to see the group of Up&Runners who were walking the race (I must say at quite a good pace) and this gave us a nice kick of adrenaline.

When we saw the 9km marker I pointed at a girl in front of us and told Tessa that she was running slightly slower than we were, and that if we kept the pace we could chase her down.
She took her hunt pretty seriously and we passed a number of people before the end. In the last stretch, Tessa suddenly bolted and I watched her speedy butt cross the finish line in little more than 1:02 (the official time is 1:03, but my Garmin is my only religion)
Some of the girls who had already finished the race handed us a glass of water (I’m sooooo grateful for that) and Tessa’s face when I showed her my Garmin was priceless.

I needed this. I needed a reminder of how it feels to run with a purpose, and if on thursday I parked my car at the B&B having a little bit of a meltdown, the tears when I turned on the engine on sunday afternoon were completely different.

Continue Reading → 1 Comment

The time I didn’t go to Mauritius and ended up loving it

Long story short: right before going to Bologna to attend my Up&Running retreat before the JJ running festival I wasn’t going to run, I received a phone call telling me my week in Mauritius had been cancelled due to the insanely bad weather. Oh well.
So I was overworked, tired and sleep deprived for no reason.
I really wasn’t in the mood to go meet a bunch of women I didn’t know and while I was crying in the car (because when I’m tired I turn into the biggest baby in the world) I was considering turning the car and just go back home and spend the rest of the week sleeping.

I’m so happy I didn’t, though.

We completely took over a bed & breakfast in central Bologna, and when I got there there was a bunch of smiling people already chatting. It took me only a few minutes to shake away the funk and start enjoying the experience.

(the last photo of me and Cate running was taken by Shauna and I totally stole it from the Up&Running facebook page)

On friday morning we got to attend a bootcamp in the park with Julia: warmup, running drills, yoga, 1km test and we also got to have ourselves filmed while running. Apparently I bounce like a spring instead of going forward -which is what running is supposed to be.
Talk about wasting energy in the wrong direction: story of my life!

Friday night we had our own private pasta demonstration at the B&B. I can roll my own tagliatelle, but the guy was AMAZING.


and this is Tessa giving it a go: germans, dutch and americans can really work it!

an aerial view of people waiting to eat their humongous pasta dishes

The room I shared with Cate was really beautiful. Even more so when we found out she could go totally ninja and disguise herself almost perfectly: she’s one pair of pink trousers away from total invisibility

we also set up a little photoboot in our room, resulting in a bunch of very silly pictures

Every single person I met I fell in love with. The only possible explanation is that Shauna and Julia drugged our water, which is totally fine with me.

Continue Reading → 1 Comment