May 29, 2010

West Vancouver Memorial Library

In other great news this month, the West Vancouver Memorial Library agreed to acquire my books Running Shoes Are a Girl's Best Friend and Powered From Within: Stories About Running & Triathlon for its collection.

May 26, 2010

New training program

I strongly believe in the value of having a personal coach. For the past five years one of Australia's all-time best distance runners has been writing my programs. Pat Carroll, who ran a 2:09:39 marathon in 1995 and a 61:11 half marathon in 1994, has coached me through eight marathons including my PB of 3:07:10, one ultra trail run (Six Foot Track in 2006) and numerous 10kms and half marathons in the past five years.

Since June 2005 until April 2010 I opened a spreadsheet created by Pat nearly every day and did the training he asked me to do. The improvement in my running and my lack of injuries are a testament to his skills as a coach. His upbeat personality has always found a positive note in each of my performances, no matter how I felt about them. As I have done to many people over the past five years already, I highly recommend Pat as a coach to any runner, from beginner to advanced.

Having said that, sometimes it is simply time for a change. So I have decided to experiment a little with my training, keeping in mind the lessons I have learnt from my 14 years of running; Pat Carroll; my triathlon coach of 4 1/2 years John Hill; the coaches and athletes I have interviewed for magazine features (and included in my book Powered From Within) and the articles I edit for ironguides, and-last but certainly not least-inspired by some good friends and great athletes.

The program I will follow over the next four months I chose for the following reasons:

* I simply need a change, mentally, from the training routine I've followed for five years (as varied and superb as it has been);
* I want more speedwork (three sessions instead of two) but with less intensity (longer repeats and workouts at marathon race pace);
* I want more running days (six versus four in my most recent program) but with a similar, and conservative, weekly volume.

After considering various options, I came across a Hal Higdon advanced marathon training program online here. I have adjusted it, at my own risk, for my races and needs.

To see my training program, as of yesterday, click here 

May 25, 2010

STORMY 50-mile trail race

After considering it carefully for a few months, I mailed in my registration form and $73 cheque for the STORMY 50-mile race held on trails around Squamish on August 8.

The main reason for my hesitation this year was the same as it was last year: my key goal as a runner is to get closer to that elusive 3-hour mark for the marathon. And I am not sure if running 80km on trails will advance my progress towards that goal.

I was also unsure about training on the trails as I typically run alone or with my dog Luka.

However, as is often the case, I received a few `signs' that I should do the STORMY, held seven weeks before my main goal race of the next four months: the Bellingham Marathon on September 26.

Ten days ago I took Luka for a 90-minute easy trail run. On the way home we ran into a poodle and her owner who told me they'd been running for almost three hours along the trails in preparation for the STORMY, also the 50-mile option (there is a 100-miler for those keen to do two loops of the course).

We ended up running for another 40 minutes or so together and exchanged emails and phone numbers at the end. Her preparation for this 50 miler, with her furthest race so far a half marathon, as well as her joy and focus in her training inspired me.

Five days later she took me on a 90-minute trail run around the Alice Lake trails, which I don't know well and are also part of the STORMY course. It was a great run, both in terms of the trails and our chat.

By now I was convinced enough about trying the ultra that has about 1800 metres of elevation gain that I had downloaded the entry form and saved it on my computer.

Then I went to a BBQ where I met a 70-year-old fellow Squamish resident who has run more than 100 marathons including 11 Bostons, the Western States 100-mile race, has raced the Ironman World Championships five times and is an age group world champion. To top it off, two years ago she became the oldest woman to race the Comrades Marathon, just to name a few accomplishments. 

With our host wearing his shirt from the STORMY for the occasion, I gave in to the temptation and filled out my registration form the very next day.

Sometimes the signs are crystal clear - if you'd like them to be.

So far I've done two ultras. Most recently, I did the Six Foot Track in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia in 2006. This 45-kilometre course climbs about 1500 meters (and actually drops nearly 1800 metres).

In Six Foot Track, I took the advice from a legend of this race to walk the uphills and was fine...until it was time for the final 2km that are steeply downhill. These were complete agony for my squads and took me something like 20 minutes.

A year earlier I walked the 100km Oxfam Trailwalker in Sydney, in just under 24 hours. With a month's notice I had joined a team to replace an injured guy so my preparation had been limited.

Still I had not anticipated how incredibly sore my body would feel. By then I had done five Ironmans and didn't think a long walk would be that much worse.

I was wrong:-).

In any case I am excited to start my preparations for the five races I am planning to do in the next four months and cannot wait to explore more of the Squamish trails on weekends.

May 21, 2010

Squamish Bookshelf store

My books are now available in the Squamish Bookshelf store:

38012 Cleveland Ave
Squamish, BC
(604) 892 3912

May 20, 2010

Squamish Public Library

My three published books have been accepted into the collection of the Squamish Public Library where they will be available soon.

Check out the history of the Squamish Public Library, pretty cool!

 From 1958 ...

to the current building that opened in 1997

As of 2005, 64 percent of residents in Squamish were members of this gorgeous 12,000 square foot facility which houses more than 35,000 books.

Experiments with paint & poetry

This weekend I began experimenting with mixing paint & poetry. I had been thinking about a way to do this for a while and was recently encouraged by good friend and talented painter Wanda Doyle.

Using one of the 28 poems from Sunshine on a wooden floor (publication June 2010), this was the result:

May 13, 2010

Thoughts on Running

When I worked on my first book Running Shoes Are a Girl's Best Friend I did an exercise aimed at defining its key theme. Using a stream-of-consciousness clustering approach I typed the following list:

Running is fun
Running is joy
Running is cool
Running is special
Running is simple
Running is natural
Running is new friends
Running is achievement
Running is health
Running is ability
Running is determination
Running is yours to take
Running is creativity
Running is passion
Running is willpower
Running is a choice
Running is exploration
Running is discovery
Running is liberating
Running is mental
Running is crazy
Running is wild
Running is self-awareness
Running is nature/natural
Running is universal
Running is dedication
Running is challenging your beliefs
Running is trust
Running is amazing
Running is control
Running is freedom
Running is unlimited
Running is tough
Running is easy
Running is character
Running is laughter/funny
Running is weird
Running is feet
Running is legs
Running is lungs
Running is desire
Running is peace
Running is silence
Running is deep
Running is philosophy
Running is a way of life

May 12, 2010

A collection of poems

Yesterday I finished my fourth book, a collection of poems. Most of the 28 poems in this 64-page paperback titled Sunshine on a wooden floor I wrote between 2004 and 2006. Topics include love, family, writing, running and immigration. They were written without the intention to publish them. Rereading them now, I think that I am ready for some of these to be read. I am waiting for a proof copy of this book which I expect to be available in June.

As I describe in my third book A Work in Progress: Exercises in Writing, I began writing poetry in university. Here's Chapter nine, titled Aspiring:

My first published stories I wrote in the early 1990s for an alumni magazine—all were non-fiction. I remember feeling very excited about writing them and seeing them published with my byline.
    My first writing I did in diaries. Many of those, mostly haphazard, entries have disappeared during my many moves. One diary that survived is of the first year after I moved away from home at the age of 19 to rent a house with two fellow students. The first entry was on August 23, 1989 and the last one, on the final page of the journal, was on April 23, 1990. It’s the longest continuous diary I’ve kept and that’s probably the best thing about it: the writing is bad.
    One of my roommates and I also began writing poetry then. We’d take a bottle of wine and a few blankets to the local river in the early evenings and sat along the shore with our notepads, pens, blankets, snacks and cigarettes or roll-your-owns to write. The building of which we rented the top two floors was dilapidated. We spruced up a few walls by adding poetry, including our own, to them with waterproof markers.
    When I joined the board of the literary group Gheraert Leeu in Gouda in 1994 some of the poems I wrote in university were printed in a home-made bundle along with those by other board members. We read our respective poems at one of the monthly gatherings our group organised, typically for published Dutch authors to discuss their work.
    Invited authors usually brought some of their books to sell. I still have the ones I bought. My favourite inscription is from the late J. van de Walle in a hard-cover copy of a 574-page collection of novels and stories because it reminds me that my choice to take the path I am on now started developing then. Van de Walle, who was in his early 80s then, wrote: “For Margreet, the first girl with an interest in Dada - Breton - Magritte.”
    I wrote poetry throughout the 1990s. Most revolved around understanding my place in the world and the direction I was headed in. Writing my poems helped me clear my mind by organising my thoughts on paper.
    Exercise: Describe the first time you acted as a writer, even if you were not conscious of it then. Write about feelings, imagination and/or daily occurrences. Detail what you wrote, dreamt or thought about back then, why, and how it made you feel.

(End excerpt)

May 05, 2010

Good4Sports blog

I met Bob Babinski while we were both working as journalists for VANOC's Olympic News Service at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games at Whistler Olympic Park (apologies for all the caps, but it's VANOC ONS style).

Bob is a freelance producer/director and a part-time journalism instructor who does much of his work with CBC-TV Sports. He also runs a fantastic blog, good4sports, and I am honoured to be featured on it:

Would you put your quest for a sub-3-hour marathon on hold in exchange for a chance to work as a reporter at the Olympics? Read the Good4Sports Q+A with marathoner Margreet Dietz, and leave your comment.

One of the benefits of working at the Ski Jumping venue at the Vancouver Olympics was that I met a remarkable number of interesting people, many of them journalists. One of them is Margreet Dietz, a Squamish, B.C. writer and editor who worked the “mix zone” interviewing athletes.

What Margreet, 39, didn’t tell us at the time is that she is runner, and she was getting ready to complete her 12-th marathon (her PR is 3:07) – in Rotterdam in April. Turns out she’s also competed in Ironman races. Between the triathlons and the road races, she has more than a 100 competitions under her belt. [Read more]

May 02, 2010

NEW: A Work in Progress: Exercises in Writing

My third book A Work in Progress: Exercises in Writing is available as of today! After writing the first draft in April 2009, I have worked incredibly hard in the past four months to bring it into the shape it is now. It's a very personal account of writing, running and life with 33 exercises intended to inspire and encourage budding or blocked writers. 

A Work in Progress

Exercises in Writing

Authored by Margreet Dietz

A writer will do anything to avoid the act of writing, William Zinsser wrote in his classic On Writing Well. To improve as writers we have to hone our skills by putting words on the page, consistently. The 33 exercises in this book will help you do just that. In the process, you will produce a draft for your own book and decide to complete that other manuscript you have been wrestling with. A Work in Progress: Exercises in Writing started as a personal challenge that helped me win the struggle with my first book Running Shoes Are a Girl's Best Friend. Combining advice and encouragement from my favourite books on writing I committed to producing 2000 words a day for 10 consecutive days. I wrote for quantity and found the result had potential quality. This is my third book. Let's get started on yours!

Publication Date: May 02 2010
ISBN/EAN13: 1450541690 / 9781450541695
Page Count: 160
Binding Type: US Trade Paper
Trim Size: 5" x 8"
Language: English
Color: Black and White
Related Categories: Self-Help / Creativity