Monday, May 30, 2011

To Run Or Not To Run

What's the best way to finish off an excellent weekend? Of course the correct answer is - to get sick! Yes I know I had a cold a month ago but I decided that it was just so much fun that I had to do it all over again. Iven's been sick with man-flu most of last week and, being the loving and giving man that he is, he's decided to spread the joy. Sam and I came down with it almost simultaneously.

Sam came home from work in the middle of the day yesterday for a long nap but I toughed it out all day yesterday then convinced myself that I didn't feel so bad this morning and took myself off to speed session. No, I wasn't feeling too bad until I actually started moving and found that my body just didn't want to. We were doing a cycle of 2x300m repeats followed by an 800m (all with 200m float recovery) and the cycle had to be repeated till Coach Chris said enough. Well, my body said ENOUGH way before he did. I managed two full cycles then the 2x 300's. But the whole time it felt like I was running through mud.

And of course I have a race scheduled for this Sunday and now I don't know what to do. I could do the 10k I've registered for and do it really slowly. Or I could downgrade to the 5k. Or I could pull out all together and get them to carry over my entry fee till next year. Decisions, decisions!!

Any suggestions?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I've had such a nice weekend.

A good 22k run is always a great start.

Then off to breakfast and the markets and then home to bake - caramel surprise brownies and black forest cookies. I love it when my kitchen has that warm sugar, chocolate and vanilla smell.

A lazy read of the paper in bed with my favourite dogs which somehow ended up with an hour and half nap - there are dribble marks on my pillow to prove just how sleepy I was.

Another hour catching up on blogs/ folding washing/ checking up on the group of uni students in our driveway who are trying to solve the world's water problems and offering them freshly baked cookies.

Catching up with my friend Natalie for our weekly walk which turned out not to be a walk because of her sore back. The coffee and conversation was good, though.

Then home for a late supper of soup and a blissful night's sleep.

Then up early this morning for a drive out to Mt Nebo to watch a lot of my squad compete in the Australian Mountain Running Championships. I'd managed to talk Iven into coming with me by bribing him with breakfast at a cafe on the mountain. (he's such a pushover) Breakfast was a little rushed and as it was we only made it to the start line to see the girls set off. Then twenty minutes later it was the men's turn. And not too long after that I got to try my hand at sport's photography. All I can say is that I'm glad I can sew.

The first two Galeforce girls coming across the finish line in 4th and 5th spots.

Our next runner Glenda, in 6th. Can't see her? My stupid camera has such a slower reaction that she was gone before the photo was taken.

The first placed women's team. Go GirlForce! I mean GaleForce.

Our master and commander Coach Chris and his favourite recovery drink.

We were home by late morning which gave me time to leisurely read the paper (no dribbling on the pillow this time) and do just a bit more baking - Apple shortcake and caramel slice.

I couldn't think of a better way to fill a weekend - except running Comrades. Good luck Andrew (from the squad) and Johann

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Second Revelation

After my self-realisation this week that I was (am) a very controlling mother, I've been trying hard to change my behaviour. It is SO hard to change what you've been doing for the past almost 24 years. Some habits are so ingrained and now I understand why my Mum was still reminding me to wear a petticoat 5 years after I'd married and left home. (And my response at that time was horror p how controlling was she?!! The fruit didn't fall so far from the tree it turns out)

Yesterday was a particularly challenging one. Josh was really late home from work but he'd phoned to let me know he'd be late. He walked in the door and a black cloud followed him into the house. He'd been to the shopping centre and while reversing out, he'd hit a concrete pole and smashed his tail light and dinged in the back. He was a bit shaken and he was really angry and he wanted it fixed right away - impossible at 8pm on a Thursday evening.

Now normally I would have jumped out of my chair and tried to fix it for him (not the car but how he was feeling) I would have taken his bag from him, made him a cup of tea/coffee, heated up his dinner and got Iven to look at the car to see what needed to be done. I would have managed the situation. But this wouldn't allow Josh to deal with it as all adults have to. He had to work out best how to manage his emotions and find the help he needed.

And the strangest thing happened. Iven got up and went out to the car with him. They discussed things over and when Josh came into the house next he had a plan of attack and his temper had defused significantly. Iven is pretty laid-back and I think his manner with Josh was enough to calm him down. I stayed with my backside firmly planted on the chair while Iven got to do some of the best parenting that I've ever seen him do. He talked to Josh man to man, worked alongside him, took him up to the car supplies place (thank goodness for Thursday late-night shopping) and together they got his car legal enough to drive.

And then came my second revelation for the week. My micro-management has possibly cheated Iven of some valuable parenting opportunities. So often I've complained that he didn't step up as a parent and I was left doing it all when sometimes what was required was for me to step away from the situation and meddle a little less.

All I could think of last night was that Josh will always remember the night he had a his first bingle and the thing that he'll remember the most was that his Dad was there for him.

So now I've got to learn new habits. I have to keep reminding myself that adults get to make their own decisions. And I get to worry less - hopefully.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Little Bits of Life

No theme on the blog today - just a couple of random bits of information.

The flag is on its way. It was posted this morning and I was told it would take 4-6 days to arrive. Not sure if that's working days but I guess Chris K can expect it sometime next week. And he might also find a little surprise in the parcel just for him.

I woke up this morning to howling winds - the type that are virtually shrieking at you to stay tucked up under the covers. So what did I do? I sucked it up and hit the road. Told myself that I wouldn't regret running but I probably would regret not running. It was cold but it was such a good run and I didn't regret it.

I learnt an important lesson on parenting from an unusual source yesterday. I watch a lot of recorded TV while I'm working and, I hate to admit this in a public forum, one of the shows I enjoy is Cougar Town. (because I can so relate to being some hot cougar)

The episode I watched yesterday was about Jules and her need to control the life of her son (an on-going theme). It struck me that I had a little bit of Jules in me when it comes to Josh. Since his problems last year I've been trying to micro-manage his life and really it's time to step away and let him manage himself. He IS 22. He has a degree and a good job. Sure I don't always agree with everything he does but what parent does? Funnily enough, I don't do this with Sam (23) and I think it's because he moved out of home for a year while he was at uni. I think that time away matured our relationship and stopped my tendency to over-mother. So now I need to give Josh the same respect and trust that he will make the right decisions for himself - not MY right decisions.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Flying the Flag

Today I ran. Actually I raced. And, although my time was nowhere near my PR, I had a really fun time.

But when I woke up this morning I almost talked myself into NOT going. It had started raining last night and it had continued to rain all night. And yesterday I'd had a really ordinary run. I'd cut my 20k down to 15 because of today's race and it just didn't feel great. I'd enjoyed the company but in enjoying the company I'd forgotten to take my gel at 45 mins and the run back to my car just seemed hard. And when I'd realised about the gel I'd started to worry about depleted glycogen stores going into the race. My stomach was unsettled for a lot of the day (talk about the Thunder from Downunder) and I didn't really eat well. All in all it was a pretty ordinary lead-up to an event.

But this morning I told myself it didn't matter. I didn't have to race it. I would just get out there and run how I felt.

So I arrived at the University in plenty of time to pick up my race kit and hang around. As Iven and I were walking to registration I heard my name being called. It was my best friend from high school/brilliant physio who keeps me running and her husband. They were doing the 5k too. We picked up our kits, went to the loos and then hung out for a while. I managed to find a couple more running buddies and the 50 mins wait ticked down quickly. Fifteen minutes till race time and I went for a warm up and I was happy with how I was feeling. There didn't seem to be any nasty ramifications from yesterday's run.

I lined up at the start. It's a really small event but small events often mean that there's a lot of novice racers/walkers. And the novices seem to have absolutely no idea that if they're walking they should probably be at the back. Same with the dog owners. Dogs were allowed to be registered participants in the race but I'm all for them being towards the rear of the field and out of the way of tripping up the people who came to race.

The start siren sounded and we were off - sort of. There were a few obstacles to get around - the man with the reluctant Labrador and the family of Samoans in the yellow-feathered hats who were walking abreast. But after about 400m I was clear to actually find a pace.

The course is lovely - along the river on a tree-lined road. It usually starts and finishes on the athletics track but since the floods there is no surface on the track so the route had to be changed slightly. We ran 2 and a bit k's and then did a 180 turn and headed back. I was traveling at around 4:50 pace. We got detoured off the main road onto a side road and then onto a grassy soccer pitch. They'd had to make up the extra distance that they'd lost due to the track being out of service and the soccer pitch was apparently the best option. Well, it would have been if it hadn't been raining all night. It was boggy and really hard to run on and all of a sudden I felt like I was trying to run through mud ... probably because I was. It was only about 600m around but by the time I was back onto the bitumen I'd used up more energy than I'd wanted. The last k and a bit home were long and I was so glad to see the finish line. I stopped my watch at 24:31 - a respectable effort that I was pleased with.

We got shuffled from the finish line down some stairs to the recovery area. It was really well supplied with water and fresh fruit. Watermelon would have to be the best post-race treat ever! I picked up my gift bag and headed off to find Iven. Then we both headed off to our favourite cafe to have breakfast and it's then that I realised that I'd forgotten to give him the camera to take any pics of the race. But I did get one shot in the end.

I may not have remembered to take many photos but I had remembered to bring my flag.

PS - Just found out that I finished 31 out of 381 competitors (not including the doggy ones) and 9th out of 226 in my category (18 years and over) And I DID manage to beat the dachshund but the little white terrier left me eating its dust.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

It's Arrived

Yesterday I got a visit from my postman. Usually he comes and just stuffs things into the letterbox and goes before I realise that he's been. But yesterday was different. He came right up to the house and insisted that I come out. I had to sign his little book and then he gave me this -

Which I promptly tore open to find this -

That's right. The International Running Flag of Friendship has arrived! And just in time. I have my 5k race on this Sunday and I'll be taking this

for a little run. I hope it doesn't weigh me down too much. Then it'll be sewn on to the big flag and be sent on its way to San Diego to visit Chris. Get your flag ready Chris and thread that sewing needle.

I'm trying hard not to think too much about Sunday's race. It's a pretty small event at the University of Queensland and I know the area really well. It's an almost flat course - just a couple of small rises - so that's good. I'm just a bit scared about the pain that will be involved, what pace I can maintain without totally dying, and basically being unprepared. Does that sound like I have a crisis of confidence? Yep, I probably do. I've been running pretty well in training but the moment I think about racing my legs turn to jelly. I'm trying to trick my brain into thinking that I'm just going on a training run and if I feel good I'll push a bit harder than usual.

So watch this space for a race report in the very near future and, Chris you can start keeping your eye out for a parcel in about a fortnight's time.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


More strange goings-on in the Donaldson household this week. Bubbles, our little fox terrier cross, has been disappearing for chunks of time and reappearing with a very large belly. I know she can't be pregnant because I have her ovaries and uterus in a bottle in our medicine cupboard (And no, that's not weird or sick. Doesn't everybody do that?) She's obviously been getting food from some place - but we just couldn't work out where.

It took a bit of clever sleuthing on Iven-just-call-me-Sherlock's behalf. He was suspicious that she was getting into our compost heap. So yesterday he made sure that Bubbles got to see some mighty delicious food going into the compost bin in the kitchen and then see it get thrown onto the heap. Our compost heap is open but it's in the chicken run which is fully fenced off.

Iven made a great show of going back inside and Bubbles followed him in but we could tell that she was distracted. The moment that Iven settled down to read the paper she quietly snuck outside. Of course Iven wasn't really reading the paper. He hadn't gone quite so far as to cut a peep hole in it but I think he would have if I'd suggested it. He tailed her out, being careful not to get sprung by this deviously greedy canine and watched her do a reverse-escape. It involved a lot of squeezing and burrowing but she finally made it in. And her reward? Week old rice and chicken soup (Again - not weird or sick to give our chickens chicken soup)

How guilty does she look?

Iven's got a bit of Bubble-proofing to do this weekend now even though I told him this problem will be self-limiting. Once she gets fat enough she won't be able to squeeze under fences anymore.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Winter's Here - Almost.

Winter is finally starting to feel like it'll arrive this year. Autumn had been mostly an extension of Summer and it's only now, with Winter around the corner that we're finally getting those lovely crisp, clear mornings that Brisbane is renowned for.

And, quite coincidentally (not), the advent of the cooler temperatures is corresponding with an improvement in my running. Running feels so much easier when you're not having to cope with the heat and humidity. I ran a very comfortable 11k on Sunday (after Saturday's 20k) and at today's speed session I felt better than I had in a long time. Unfortunately feeling better doesn't always correlate to running faster but I 'm hitting respectable paces.

But it's not just the running that's better in Winter. Winter clothes are way better. Six months of living in jeans is my idea of heaven. Boots - love 'em and Iven finally talked me into a pair of longer boots. Man are they warm! Scarves!! I could fill a drawer with them - all colours of the rainbow. (except brown and orange and yellow cause I don't do naturals very well)

And then there's the food. I made my first big pot of soup last week. Curried chicken and barley - yum. And those old apples became a hot apple crumble served with custard. I've even extended my baking repertoire to include bagels. There's nothing nicer than a bagel fresh out of the oven with a bowl of home-made soup on a cold day.

The cooler weather just gives me this energy and makes me want to get stuff done where Summer just seems to suck the life out of me.

And the downside of a Brisbane Winter? Getting dressed for the early morning runs in a house that's not centrally heated. And that's about it.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Why I Love To Run

I woke up cranky this morning. Yesterday had been a great day. I'd started with my (now) monthly massage, had a nice coffee with my sister, finished up the week's work and finished early enough to go read Runner's World for an hour before dinner (gotta love Friday nights. Left-overs night = no cooking) and rounding out the night watching my football team play and get soundly beaten. (And no that didn't make me cranky)

My crankiness started after I went to sleep. I'd been asleep for only an hour when Luke, playing computer games in his room, let out a loud yell (must have been an exciting game). In my sleep-addled state I thought that someone was calling me so I jumped out of bed and ran down the hall. No emergency but I noticed that Josh was still out.

Now Josh has been really sick this week, been off work for four days, been to the doctor's twice and is on antibiotics. He'd gone out to dinner with friends at 7pm but it was well after 11pm. I went back to bed and stewed over his lack of common sense, his irresponsibility and the fact that he was undoubtedly going to put himself into hospital with pneumonia and probably lose his job. (When it's night and I'm getting worked up I tend to make giant leaps of doom and gloom) I wasn't sleeping and getting angrier and angrier when I decided to call him. Got out of bed to find that he'd just arrived home (after midnight) and was getting changed to go out again. Boy did I let him have it! I may or may not have said that if he didn't get his s@#t together he could leave home because what I couldn't see I wouldn't worry about.

Then I went back to bed.

And couldn't sleep

For ages ...

But I must have drifted off because at 2:10am I was rudely awoken by one of the hens falling off her perch and cackling. Iven dealt with her while I tried to get back to sleep.

At 2:30 there was a little tap on our door. Then another. And then a whine. Poor Nelson needed to go out to the toilet and was trying to let us know. Up I got (Iven had fallen straight back to sleep after the chook incident) and let him out and went back to bed.

Lying there ONCE AGAIN trying to get to sleep, I realized I needed to go to the toilet. Great! Back up again!! It was after 3am now and I only had till 4:55 till the alarm was set to go off. There was a big internal debate over whether I should turn it off and pike on the run but I knew I'd feel like I was being punished even more if I missed out. So I just lay there and let the time tick down.

So that's why I woke up cranky but I feel great now. As soon as we started running I felt this peace filter through and calm my mood. It was a magnificent, crisp, clear morning. We got to see the sun rise over the river, I got to talk to some lovely people and now all's right with the world. I've even made peace with Josh.

And that's why I love to run. I <3 running.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The world is full of mysteries - questions that have no answers. And there's a mysterious situation that's been happening at our house on and off. It all centers around Josh.

He's been a little prone to infections lately. I think it's all from burning the candle at both ends. Working hard, playing hard, not sleeping enough - the sort of thing that would put anyone over 30 in hospital for a week suffering from exhaustion. He's had a couple of upper respiratory tract infections lately. But that's not the mysterious thing. The mysterious thing is that whenever he's laid low, an Angel of Mercy arrives at our front door. Usually the Angel of Mercy is bearing chicken soup or Tiger Balm or Multivitamins. And these, usually beautiful, girls always stay for hours ministering to his every need. Where they come from, I don't know. And they usually just disappear in the wee hours of the morning - just like the elves in The Elves and The Shoemaker. It's all very odd.

I attempted my Kick-Up-The Backside run again today. My aim was to run 2 x 2k hard in the middle of an 11k run. It was partially successful. Successful in that I ran all four of those hard k's at sub 5min pace (4:48, 4:47, 4:55, 4:43). Partially was because I had to stop to go to the loo just before the last k. I blame Iven for my necessary toilet stop. He gave me some of my favourite lollies for Mother's Day. Lollies which I have very little control over my consumption. Lollies that I may have eaten just a couple too many of yesterday. Lollies which contain the known laxative licorice. Ah well - it made that last k really fast.

I'll finish on a bit of a sad note. My alarm clock of 15 years finally died this week. Apparently I dropped it one too many times and it will no longer alarm me. Of course it had to happen on the day of speed session. I woke up at 5:47 instead of 4:55 which meant that they'd started without me. There was a little mental swearing, a morning of regret and then the purchase of a brand spanking new clock. May it ring for another 15 years.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

I am the organizer in my house. Basically if I don't organize it, it doesn't happen. So with Mother's Day coming up I thought I'd better make plans. We always set aside the afternoon to spend with my Mum, so MY time had to be in the morning. That's always good for me. I'm always up. It's not so easy for teenagers and young adults who think that anything before 10 is ridiculously early.

So from the beginning of the week I started to tell the boys that we'd be going out for breakfast at about 8:30. Josh was probably told the most times because he loves to go out and stay out and it's not unusual for him to crash at a friend's place. Luke got the information enough times to tell me that YES HE KNEW! And Sam - well. somehow I managed to miss telling Sam anything. Luckily the boy is wise enough to know that something is going to happen.

So Mother's Day was spent at my favourite cafe sipping on cappuccinos and eating poached eggs on multigrain, enjoying the crisp sunny morning and trying to recover from the 2 hour run of Saturday morning and the 2 hour walk of Saturday evening.

The afternoon was spent at my Mum's house having a lovely homemade afternoon tea. I know some of you think I'm a great cook but my older sister leaves me totally for dead. She made us the most amazing custard scrolls and we got to eat them straight out of the oven.

Writing on Mum's card got me thinking about what great attributes she has and the life lessons she's taught us. She's taught us that you get so much more from giving than receiving. That you don't have to have all the answers to problems but just listening can help so much. That a Mother's love is endless, tireless and healing.

She also taught us things like how to cook and sew and to believe we can do what ever we put our minds to. I don't think I'd be running a sewing business today without her. She taught me the skills but also made me want to be a stay-at-home Mum for my boys - to be there for them as she was for us.

I can never say it enough. THANKS MUM!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Great-Aunty Char

I became a great-aunty yesterday. My oldest niece had her first child - a little girl Anneke Victoria. The photo is probably too small to do her justice but we all (my sisters and I) think she's beautiful (as all doting great-aunts do) and we all shed a few little tears.

My middle sister is the grandmother - she's 45 and not looking like a traditional granny but she's pretty excited to be one.

Wondering when it'll be my turn. Please boys wait till you're finished uni(Luke), have a steady girlfriend (Josh) and preferably wait till you're married (all three of you)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Kick-Up-The-Backside Run

I am going to get the International Running Flag of Friendship soon. It's coming from South Africa from Staci. And because of it's imminent arrival I've been doing a bit of thinking.

The International Flag of Friendship was Johann's stroke of genius. The idea is to get a small flag of your country, be photographed with it and take it for a run. Then the flag gets sewn onto a bigger piece of fabric which will get sent around the world from blogger to blogger. Eventually the fabric will be covered with lots of little flags from lots of different nations symbolizing our unity as runners worldwide.

I've decided that I want to do a race with my flag rather than a run and as it turns out there's a little race in just a couple of weeks only 5 minutes drive from my door. So I'll be doing the 5k at the Rotary Fun Run on the 22nd of this month. There is a 10k option but it's a double loop and I'm not keen on running the same way twice - it always does my head in.

But a 5k means having to run FAST


today's run was a little different from my normal Wednesday run.

For the last year the whole aim of my mid week run was to keep my heart rate low. But I've been feeling so much better (discounting the cold/cough I had last week). And I've gotten to a comfortable place where I don't like to push myself. I've gotten complacent and lazy and I've always got a good EXCUSE why I shouldn't push myself.

I know I'm never going to get any of my speed back by just plodding along for most of my runs. I need to add in some sustained efforts and that's what I did today. I ran 4k at a comfortably hard pace before picking it up for a k, back to the previous pace for a k, hard for a k etc. I only did 3 k's at the faster pace but I got under 5 mins/k for each of them and the last was my fastest. I'll keep doing this and gradually stretch out the faster sections until my body gets used to the feel of pushing itself again and my mind stops resisting.

And did I enjoy it? You betcha!!